The average worker experiences roughly 56 interruptions a day—or one every 8 minutes. Employees who work from home likely experience more than that. They often feel compelled to respond immediately to every email as it comes in because they fear someone will think they aren’t working if they don’t.
Distractions kill your and your employees’ productivity. So how can you clear the distractions so that you regain your focus and maximize your productivity?
Follow this advice:
- Stop multitasking. You can’t do it anyway. What you actually do is rapidly switch from one task to the next, and with each switch, your productivity drops. The distraction of one item (e.g., the email ding or text beep) causes you to shift and destroys your momentum. Researchers say the best you can achieve when you switch between tasks is about 70% effectiveness on each task. Just do one thing at a time.
- Schedule email. I travel a great deal and spend large chunks of time with clients or delivering training. During those times, I can’t check email even if I want to. On those days, I process email in batches at planned times, and I spend far less time on email. Schedule time for email and put those times in your calendar. Then process email then (and only) then.
- Turn down the ringers, alerts and notifications. You turn down your ringer when you don’t want to be disturbed, right? That should be most of the time because you are doing something important like talking to someone, participating in a meeting or working on a project. Turn off the email alert and silence all the notifications on your phone, and you will immediately reduce your biggest source of distractions.
- Make meetings no phone and email zones. Everyone I talk to about meetings feels they have too many of them and they take too long. Ban those devices from your meetings, and focus on finishing meetings earlier.
- Shut off the Internet. Operate your PC or tablet without the Internet on or put your phone in airplane mode or turn it off. You aren’t the President of the United States, and you can cut yourself off from the rest of the world for a short time.
- Pick up the phone. Email isn’t always ideal for communication. Quicken problem solving and decision-making by picking up the phone to clarify an issue or talk through a problem. That reduces the need for several rounds of back-and-forth emails and the number of interruptions you will experience.
Take action now to take back your time, and start by eliminating the power interruptions have over your day. To truly learn how to make the most of every minute each day, check out our on-demand workshop, Maximizing Your Productivity as a Remote Employee.
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