Between our smartphones, laptops, and tablets, we have more than enough distractions at our fingertips at any given moment. When you enter the workplace and add the interruptions of your co-workers, vendors, and managers, your ability to complete tasks is seriously diminished. A study at the University of California Irvine found that each time a worker was distracted, it took an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task. As a measure to combat unproductive time in the workplace, try setting a designated period each day where you are uninterruptible.
We suggest carving out an hour each day and blocking it on your calendar. This is a time to brainstorm, prepare, and work on key projects. Without the distractions of technology and chit chat, you will be amazed at how productive you can truly be! We oftentimes mistake the small, distracting tasks for productivity, when in fact the two are quite different.
During this time, you should avoid all emails, calls, and texts that are not urgent. If you find that things are popping up during the hour that cannot be delayed, address the issue at hand and then return to your uninterrupted state.
This also means no Facebook, Instagram, or other social sites. While it may be tempting to quickly check your social media profiles, browsing these sites distracts you from the tasks that need to be completed.
We recognize that you may not be able to fully avoid distractions for an hour each day. But while you may only have 30 minutes to dedicate today, tomorrow may allow for an hour. Adding this exercise into your routine will require practice, as avoiding distractions is not common in our technology-focused society. However, utilizing this technique over time will allow you to increase productivity and may measurable advancements on key projects and initiatives.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.