Staying productive in the face of endless distractions is a universal problem that affects all sorts of people, whether you’re an organizational wizard or someone who prefers to go with the flow. When you have an issue bringing your best self to your work and finding your productivity sweet spot, it can be discouraging to find yourself battling with productivity over and over again.
The reasons for the dips in productivity vary and tend to overlap. Finding the reason can be a big help, but sometimes it’s just about finding the motivation to get yourself through necessary tasks. If you’re in a productivity slump, you might want to try some hacks that really work in order to find which one works best for you.
Apply the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule states that in many circumstances, roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. Management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle. Essentially, it shows that approximately 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. Other examples of the rule include 80 percent of revenue is generated by 20 percent of customers or that 80 percent of crimes are committed by 20 percent of criminals.
In terms of productivity, it’s a way of weighing a task’s importance. In order to create the biggest effect by the work you’re putting in, you should complete the tasks first that will make the biggest impact and spend much of your time completing them. For instance, if you have a list of 10 things on a to-do list, pick the top two that are the most important that will give you the majority of your result. Then, spend 80 percent of your time completing them and 20 percent of your time on the other eight. Even if you don’t complete all of the other eight, you got the most important done.
Find Your Sound
Sound is a great way to tune out the distractions around you. Whether you work in a loud open office, you find it tempting to take part in the conversations around you, or the sound of your surroundings pull you from your concentration, creating an audible barrier can help. However, finding the right sound to tune out all the distractions without it becoming a distraction as well can be difficult.
You can look into study playlists that help students stay focused on their studies that include everything from coffee shop vibes to instrumentals. Some prefer the sound of a television or radio that breaks silence or outside discussions while being normal enough to tune out. Some require white noise which can provide a sound barrier without any nonsense.
Use Time Blocks
Using time blocks for productivity is just another way of describing a basic schedule. However, you can use time blocks to be flexible depending on how you’re feeling and how focused you are. These don’t have to be blocks of time that you create first thing in the morning and stick to — though they can be. It’s just a way of allowing yourself to remove yourself from a project while still staying on task. Instead of forcing yourself to stare at the computer all day, commit to a block of time. And then walk away if you’re feeling restless.
For instance, tell yourself to work on your task for one more hour. After that hour, take a 15-minute walk and come back to your task. Or mix in other tasks in between a particularly daunting one in order to provide yourself with a break while still staying productive. If you organize these mini-breaks throughout your day, you may be able to be more productive in those blocks instead of winging your time during an average eight-hour workday.
Eliminate the Distractions
What may distract one person does not always distract another. In a world where everyone works best a little differently, it can be difficult to create a space and situation that works best for each person’s ideal environment. Finding your own preferences as well as your own productivity killers is important in creating the perfect world for your best work.
Social media, Buzzfeed, news sites, and YouTube are all common culprits in the world of distractions that kill productivity. In order to eliminate these as distractions, try a Chrome extension like Forest which will not allow you to go on those sites for a certain amount of time.
Social chatter distractions:
In a world where much of our social interactions at work are now online using chat tools, it can be difficult to eliminate these distractions. Remember to silence certain channels that aren’t for work matters. Turn off notifications. And set a time to check on work chat so the notifications aren’t derailing your work.
- Email distractions:
Emails constantly flowing in can be a huge distraction. Change the settings in your email inbox to set notifications only for urgent emails or emails from certain people. Set a time or two each day to check emails instead of checking them every time one comes in.
Sounds, lighting, chatter, and even smells can create a distracting environment. If your company provides it, work in an alternative workspace, or work from home where you can control these environmental factors instead of being distracted by them.
Momentum can be really important in terms of productivity. Things like meetings, phone calls, and fielding questions can all cause a shift in workflow that derails momentum. Create blocks of time where your peers and employees know to allow you to work without being bothered.
Productivity is a buzzword thrown around a lot in many offices. Employers look for employees who are productive. Employees strive to be as productive as possible. Productivity is directly tied to revenue in a lot of ways. However, it’s something that is difficult to maintain all of the time. In order to work on how productive you are and, therefore, how valuable you are to your company, it’s important to recognize your distractions and how to work through them. There are a lot of productivity hacks out there. It’s all about finding the ones that make the most sense for you.
About the Author
Chelsey Ranard is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She is passionate about addiction recovery advocacy, loves talk radio, and prefers her coffee iced. Follow her on Twitter!