A special thank you to Max Cacchione, Founder & Project Manager at RotationManager.com who wrote this article and graciously allowed me to re-post it on my blog. Max is a very talented software project manager with a proven track record of delivering software development projects on time and on budget. He’s a Princeton graduate with a UM MBA and a talent for languages both computer and spoken (he is fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish).
Ahh, distractions. It’s hard to be productive when we’re surrounded by so much noise- whether it’s social media, a chatty co-worker, current events (hello, elections!), or the unforeseen, there’s always something grabbing your attention from what TRULY needs to get done.
I have a Facebook acquaintance who insists there’s an essential oil that gives razor-sharp focus, but for those of us who don’t want our workplace to smell like an apothecary, there are a few, easy steps we can take to eliminate distractions.
1. Plan ahead – Planning ahead can be as simple as taking a few minutes every night to identify the absolute essentials that must be done the following day, as well as a few extra tasks that should be accomplished if time permits. Review your plan each morning before starting work.
2. Block obvious distractions – Put your phone on airplane mode. If you’re expecting a call you need to take, block all notifications. If you’re working on the computer, close distracting websites. Temporarily block them, if necessary.
3. Clear your work area – The experts agree: a cluttered work area results in a cluttered mind. File, organize, and toss all that doesn’t belong on your desk.
4. Keep a “brain dump” notebook – I’m a fan of using pen and paper as a “brain dump” to jot down and thoughts, ideas, or to-dos that come to mind while I work . Once you’ve gotten those thoughts of your head, you’ll be able to focus on the task on hand. Place these tasks and ideas in your planner at a later time.
5. There’s an app for that – I no longer keep quarters for the parking meter in my wallet, because, as my friends say, I have an app for everything -including parking. If you spend too much time doing a particular task, chances are there’s an app or a website that could streamline the process for you. Do your research.
6. Use headphones – Play tunes or white noise that helps you focus, or use headphones as an excuse to ignore people when they talk to you (and this will prevent constant interruptions).
It goes without saying that there are many other steps you can take to improve productivity, but these 6 mentioned above are a good place to start. What are your favorite productivity tips? Let us know!