Distractions Are the Enemy of Productivity

Distractions Are the Enemy of Productivity

Let’s get serious here.

As the title of this article indicates, distractions are detrimental to how productive we can be. We’re under a lot of pressure to get things done both at work and at home. Our jobs and businesses require us to be more productive than ever, and there never seems to be enough time to get everything done around the house.

At the same time, we’re also faced with more and more distractions throughout the day. Thanks to our laptops, tablets, and smartphones we’re reachable 24/7 via phone calls, messages, and email. Then there’s social media, constant news updates and entertainment options etc. And we haven’t even touched on getting interrupted by people in person… To sum it up, we’re under pressure to be more productive, yet we’re also constantly interrupted. And that’s not a good combination.

Distractions are detrimental to our productivity

Distractions interrupt our thought processes and make us stop what we’re doing. Obviously, we lose however long this person or thing manages to distract us, but it goes deeper than that.

Anytime we are distracted we lose our train of thought. Once the distraction goes away, we must get back to what we’re working on and figure out what we were doing. This takes time. It may not take a lot of time, but multiplied over several interruptions per hour, it quickly adds up.

And it gets worse!!

It gets even worse when you are in the flow, working super productively and get disrupted. This is when these little beeps, email alerts, phone calls, or friends dropping by really hurt. When you’re in the flow you’re much more productive than at other times. Sadly, it takes some time to reach this mental state and the smallest distraction takes you right out of it.

Then you need even more time to get back into the flow after each distraction. Just think how much productive work time each little interruption and distraction is costing you.

We all wish we had more time.

We want more hours in the day, and we need to get things done more quickly. While we can’t barter or buy more time, we can improve our productivity by eliminating some of these daily distractions. That, in turn, will give you more time for the things that are important to you like that pet project that’s always pushed to the back of the burner, your favorite hobby and of course time with family and friends.

Often the hardest part of any work task or chore around the house is getting started. Getting into the right frame of mind and figuring out where you left off takes time and effort. Once you get going, it becomes much easier to keep working away. You get into the flow we talked about earlier and before you know it, you’ve made some serious progress. Unless you get distracted, in which case you must get started again all over. That’s why a day filled with distractions and disruptions is a lot more exhausting than a day without.

It’s hard or even impossible to focus with too many distractions.

If you get interrupted too often, you may give up on working on that project that takes a lot of thought. Instead, you turn to busy work to fill the time in between distractions. It makes you feel like you’re doing something, but since it isn’t meaningful work, you’re not really making progress. You can’t do your best work and deep thinking when you’re frequently distracted.

Then what happens?

You start to fall behind on important work project. You can’t fulfill your potential and grow your business or rise within the company as quickly as you’d hoped. Important repairs and upkeep tasks around the house don’t get done in a timely manner. But it doesn’t stop there…

The constant distractions give you less time to rest both mentally and physically. When you feel the need to respond to every little beep your smartphone makes and keep up with work email around the clock, you don’t get the rest you need.

Not making as much progress as you’d expected and not fulfilling your potential can lead to lower self-esteem and depression. The stress of not getting stuff done and the lack of true rest can bring with them all sorts of health problems from obesity to heart disease. These health and mental issues, in turn, can create even more distractions, creating a vicious cycle.

Thankfully there’s a way out. You get out by starting to eliminate distractions. To make it easy for you to take those first few steps, here’s a short list that you can start with.

10 Steps to Eliminate Distractions in Your Life

  1. Declutter — Too much stuff and mess can be very distracting. Less is more and what you need is easier to find. Don’t let unnecessary stuff distract you.
  2. Simplify — Simplify your life. Think of it as decluttering of non-material “stuff”.
  3. Schedule — Keeping track of appointments and things you should do can be quite distracting. Scheduling tasks help you focus on one thing at a time and increases productivity.
  4. Delegate — Cut back on the things you need to take care of personally and the distractions they bring with them by delegating what you can.
  5. Automate — Stop worrying about paying those bills on time, and letting those thoughts distract you. Auto-bill is your friend. Automate what you can.
  6. Resolve — Resolve problems, conflicts, and issues that weigh on your mind or keep popping up at the most inopportune moments.
  7. Set Boundaries — You don’t have to be available to anyone at all times. You also don’t have to know everything that’s going on at all times. Limit distractions by setting and enforcing boundaries on others and yourself.
  8. Make Technology Work for You — Technology can be a great time-saver, but it can also be quite distracting if you aren’t careful. This is particularly true for your smartphone. Use with caution and don’t be afraid to turn it off.
  9. Turn It Off — Speaking of which… sometimes the best thing you can do is turn it off. Turn off your phone, close your email program, leave all social media sites for the day, and buckle down to get things done.
  10. Relax — Don’t forget to unplug and recharge. Not only will this cut down on a lot of internal distractions, you’ll also be able to better handle the distractions that do pop up.

What tips would you add? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Till Next Time

Mike Gardner — The Time Doctor

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