These days, more than ever, we are surrounded by distractions and this can lead to procrastination, feelings of guilt, frustration, visible irritation and stress.
So how can you create the space that you need to do your best, focused work without interruptions?
1. People, the greatest source of interruptions
- Make sure you make it super clear to others when you’re working on something that needs focused time to minimise distractions. All too often
- we think to ourselves ‘well it’s obvious isn’t it that I’m working to this deadline. But remember that people are messy, unpredictable and bring their own stuff with them at all times, so they may have forgotten about your super-important deadline or may not notice.
- Even if you’ve done that, it’s more than likely that some people will ignore the warning. In these cases – be honest with people and give them the feedback that you can’t be disturbed right now.
Give yourself a chance by separating yourself from distracting people. Find a different space away from people who are likely to interrupt, including (if possible) working from home, or from another location if there’s something that is very pressing and needs your focused attention.
2. Escaping from technology
Tech these days is designed to distract – little pop-ups and notifications are all designed to make you notice and act on an engineered interruption. However, if you’re trying to cope with interruptions, you’re going to have to get more strict with these loving little nags…so:
- Switch off all notifications/email/your phone when you need focused time. Put on an out of office message when you don’t want to be interrupted and don’t respond to emails when you have the out of office message on
- Stop allowing yourself to be distracted by notifications on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram whatever – these notifications can all be switched off, or ignored completely if you don’t have your device switched on. Allow yourself set times to check on communication updates, but be strict on how long you spend flicking through them.
3. Your behaviour, habits, and feelings
Ultimately, the work you do on you is the thing that can make the greatest difference in coping with interruptions.
- Make sure that you value what you’re doing as much/more than potential distractions (find a reason that your task matters) – this can help get over feelings of guilt about not being there for, or helping, other people, because you can come back to the reason why you are focusing on your task in the first place.
- What REALLY ever happens that’s bad when we switch off our tech for a bit? So try practising – joy of missing out – by being more present in the right now of your senses as this can help you become less anxious about what everyone else is getting up to
- Try mindfulness and meditation because it can help to refocus you quickly when you do get interrupted – it can also help you get quick perspective on an interruption or distraction and can get you back to where you want to be – focused and productive.