It’s no secret that work environments can be rife with distractions.Whether it’s a football table, PlayStation, fragrant coffee or the sound of your co-workers chatting, there are numerous intrusions which may prevent you from staying focused.
The world of tech startups could be considered to be slightly more distracting than a traditional office setting due to the encouragement of collaborative open plan spaces and innovative tech.
Although open plan spaces are suitable for social interactions and teamwork, they can occasionally make it difficult to focus.
Developers, in particular, need longer periods of time without distractions (see maker schedule vs manager schedule). These requirements are also needed at home with private zones such as home offices when working remotely.
Also sometimes known as a ‘safe space’, the same goes for emotional or private moments when you just need some time alone in order to boost creativity and raise self-awareness.
Get into the Zone
It can be understandably difficult to get into the right frame of mind when everything around us seems to be much more inviting than our screens.
Hearing the latest updates, listening to stories of weekend escapades and general work gossip can seem much more fun than finishing that last eye-straining task before starting another.
Although, it can seem particularly hard to concentrate if you aren’t taking regular short breaks as we mentioned in our article on preventing burnout.
Due to the nature of our jobs, we may find ourselves distracted by unicorn GIFs, Slack jokes, social media and online chores (such as buying groceries).
It’s important to remember that by moving your focus to that new tab or by opening up another browser window, you’re procrastinating. There are extensions and apps available which help you procrastinate less.
If it’s possible to work offline, it can sometimes help.
Here is a list of ways we can combat distraction:
Headphones: Setting yourself up with a pair of headphones and a pre-prepared playlist will make things easier. Investing in noise cancelling headphones is worth it.
Try implementing a ‘headphone rule’ whereby headphone wearers can only be interrupted via Slack message or email if it’s urgent.
Communicate: Letting your colleagues know you’re busy is one of the most important ways of avoiding distraction, being able to voice your concerns will help you focus on your work. We have some other communicative tips which may help here.
If you’re working in a distracted team, perhaps set rewards for yourselves. “If we get … done, we can all go out for drinks! Let’s do this!” A short-term goal tracker and reward system can be the ultimate way to get things done!
Resolve: Once you understand what’s causing your lack of focus, it’s easier to deal with the problem and resolve the situation.
If you’re a Twitter addict, log out. If you’re tired, drink some coffee. If you’re hungry, just eat something. If you’re ill, go home (or to the doctor).
Space: If you know you’ll work better in an empty office and work for a company which encourages flexi-time, go in earlier, or stay later. Just finding a quieter space might help too.
Tidy or clean up your environment, food, cups, papers, anything which makes the space seem messy. Tidy desk, tidy mind. Only have necessities in front of you whilst working.
Time: Working on specific tasks for shorter periods of time rather than trying to get everything done in one go can be quite useful.
For example, rather than replying to emails all at once, it can be easier to reply as soon as they’re read, even if the response is “I’m working on … at the moment, I’ll be able to reply with more details later on”. Using tools to track time spent on specific websites can also work well.
Scheduling your day digitally (or on paper if you’re a traditionalist) acts as a visual reminder, having an accessible ‘to-do list’ will undoubtedly help you move things along and stay on track.
Go full screen, silence those notifications and remember that a little procrastination can actually help us focus in the long run and it turns out that cat videos are good for your well being.
We’d Love to Hear from You
How do you keep yourself in the zone where you work? What kind of distractions have you been faced with? Is there anything you’d like to add, have we missed anything?
Please feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments below or via social media (send us some photos or videos too), you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, let’s connect!
All images used are CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).