We’ve all been tempted to do absolutely nothing on a particular workday. Whether you’re burned out or feeling a bit lazy, falling into the unproductive zone from time to time is a common thing for employees. After finishing platefuls of work, it’s but natural for employees to spend a few minutes resting or doing nothing to reenergize their minds and bodies. Having a period of rest is actually a step towards being productive. It helps jumpstart your mind and replenish your energy, so you can get through the rest of your eight-hour shift.
Being unproductive most of the time, though, is another story. There are several reasons why employees experience long productivity lapses during work hours. Jason Fried, head of Chicago-based company 37 Signals and author of Rework, a book that discusses about telecommuting, says that the office is actually the last place anyone can be productive. The workplace is no longer a place where you can get work done, especially when it’s teeming with unnecessary, productivity-killing interruptions. So how can you avoid office distractions and increase your productivity at work? Here are some ways to stay focused:
- Block out noise
Noise is the number one productivity killer in the workplace. Rowdy, talkative colleagues and annoying machine sounds contribute to about 90% of distracting office noise. They’re usually the reasons why you find yourself still stuck with the same work you started an hour ago. While it’s okay to remind your colleagues to keep their voices down, you can’t say ‘Ssshhh!’ and tell them to stay quiet all the time. You’ll only come off as an obnoxious, killjoy colleague. You don’t want to make some enemies along the way on your quest to stay productive, do you? The key here is tolerance. That and noise-cancelling earphones. If this doesn’t do the trick, then find an empty, quiet room where you can do your work. Bring your laptop and the things you need for work and close the door. This will effectively block out office noise and help you stay focused.
- Don’t browse sites that are not related to your work.
Limit your social networking activities until after your eight-hour shift is over. While social media can be used as a tool for productivity, it can also be extremely distracting to employees. Research shows that an average worker browses approximately 40 websites in a single workday. This is a huge blow to the productivity rate of employees. In fact, lost work productivity actually costs the U.S. economy $650 billion per year. The time squandered on browsing these sites can otherwise be spent on accomplishing tasks and finishing projects. Don’t let social media kill your productivity. Discipline yourself. If you can’t, install a blocking software or program on your work PC to block non-work related sites.
- Limit your phone and email activities.
If possible, turn off your email notifications and route your phone calls to voicemail. Unnecessary phone and email activities can also take a huge chunk off your work hours. Configure your email settings to turn off the pop-up notifications, and create folders to separate important emails from the rest. Also, put your phone on silent mode while at work. The constant ringing and beeping will not only distract you, but also your colleagues. Route calls to another channel as well to avoid getting distracted when you’re in the zone.
You’ll only be a victim of office productivity killers if you don’t do something about them. Make an effort to avoid distractions and stay focused. Being consistently productive at work will not only help you avoid stress, but also make you a worthy candidate for promotions and pay raises.