When we get distracted while working, we lose our most valuable asset – our focus of attention. It simply dissipates. Writer Jane Mark, from the free essay help online service, studied this issue with colleagues from Berlin. She said that employees interrupted by phone calls and emails need 23 minutes to get back to their work tasks. And this raises stress levels, and those who get distracted feel much worse than those who don’t.
Sometimes, we lose focus because of an overly chatty colleague or an annoying boss who keeps throwing new tasks at us. But it’s often the fault of meaningless habits that we instinctively repeat day after day. The first step to solving a problem is to admit it exists. Your productivity may be suffering because of one of these common behaviors.
- Sitting on your phone
Many of us keep it by our side at all times. As soon as we have a spare second, such as when a web page on our computer takes too long to load, we instinctively reach for our smartphone. More often than not, we get sucked into Instagram*, TikTok, or any other social network where we waste 5, 7, 10, or even more minutes.
Try scheduling that time. Check your accounts for 15 minutes at 12:00, 15:00, and 17:00. This schedule will curb the urge to pick up your phone during the day.
Your productivity may be suffering because of one of these common behaviors.
- Switch to small tasks
One second, we are diligently doing work tasks, and the next, we are already buying things online, making a grocery list, booking a table in a restaurant, and having no recollection of what we were supposed to do. This is a consequence of the habit of doing whatever comes to mind simultaneously. If we put these little things off for later, we will forget about them. Besides, they’ll only take a second. But soon, one thing turns into a chain that takes an hour to complete.
Instead, list non-work-related little things that need to be done. This will help you understand which ones can be rescheduled and which ones can be delegated to someone, such as a family member.
Try to avoid multitasking. It is better to allocate long periods and work without distractions. In such “marathons,” you will have time to do much more.
- Open multiple tabs in your browser
If your browser is always cluttered, there’s bad news for you: every page you open hurts your attention span. Browser tabs creator Adam Stiles recognizes that not all of us can adequately manage the freedom of having unlimited sites open. We often use this option for new distractions, even though it’s perfect for switching between projects and working comfortably.
Particular extensions help to fight this habit. For example, OneTab turns all open tabs into a list, and Tab Auto Close or Tab Wrangler automatically closes windows in the browser that you haven’t used for a long time.
- Check work chats
Doing this throughout the day is perfectly fine. But if you start obsessively refreshing the page and opening conversations every second, you may be just stuck in another pointless habit. And it’s very attention-draining.
Plus, instant replies to messages give you a reputation as someone willing to drop everything to solve other people’s problems. And that can lead to extra work being thrown over your shoulders.
To break this habit, set boundaries for your colleagues. They need to know when you’re working on critical tasks, and you can’t be distracted. Check the settings of the apps used in your company. Some features will help you look into work chats less often.
- Taking the wrong approach to problem-solving
According to Ohio State University management professor Tanya Manon, those who consider themselves experts tend to solve the problems of those around them impulsively. Such people are not used to analyzing the situation or calculating their time and resources, but on the contrary, they immediately plunge into other people’s tasks. Such “experts” want quick answers and often look at problems too narrowly.
To make it easier to deal with complex problems, wait to look for a solution. First, ask yourself if this is really what you should be doing. Manon suggests asking as many questions about a problem as possible to understand it from all sides. This will help you analyze the situation and choose the best strategy for further action.