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Published on October 1, 2018

How to Stop These 15 Distractions at Work From Impacting Your Career

How to Stop These 15 Distractions at Work From Impacting Your Career

Workplace distractions can leave you feeling stressed, exhausted, and overworked. You’ve been hopeful for a raise but you know that your boss has noticed that your performance and behavior is not up to your usual standards.

Focusing used to be a lot easier but as time goes on you let “all the things” stand in the way of your successful career. You know that you need to focus, eat nutritious foods, and stop talking excessively to your co-workers. Are you ready to put the distractions to rest once and for all so that you can confidently ask for the promotion you’ve been eyeing?

Here’s the deal, you’ll always have a person at work that talks way to much, endless emails, phones ringing, and a sense of urgency for everything except for what you need to be doing.

Imagine if you have had fewer distractions and you were able to focus on your priorities. I’ve identified the major 15 distractions but even better we will talk about about how you can fix these issues so that your productivity will skyrocket.

1. Frequently checking emails

Emails are widely used and a mainstream way of communication in the workplace. They are also constantly being sent at random times throughout the day. Your initial to do list will be derailed time and time again when you constantly check your email.

Do this:

Set a time to check your work emails or you’ll always be at the mercy of someone’s else’s sense of urgency.

Some jobs’ daily work flow comes directly via email and that is fine but for the rest of us, checking your email 3 times a day should be plenty.

Check emails about 2 hours after you’ve arrived to work, after lunch, and about 1 hour before you leave for the day.

These time frames will give you time to tackle any new tasks that have come in through your email. It will also put an end to constantly refreshing your inbox.

2. Instant message apps such as Slack

The sense of urgency increases tenfold with apps like Slack if you are not careful.

Let’s be clear, the need for quick efficient communication is ever present. This app has great advantages when used effectively. However, if it holds your time hostage with ongoing discussions, then limitations need to set in place.

Do this:

Set boundaries around the use of Slack. Make sure your office knows that you have a time to be offline and shouldn’t be expected to respond in Slack during that time.

3. Phone calls

Constantly answering phone calls puts a drag on productivity. They ring to no end and it will never stop unless boundaries are created.

Do this instead:

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Once you have answered a phone call at work, take a message and clearly communicate with the other person that you will make note of the request now but respond back to them at a designated time.

The second thing that can be implemented is to set a voicemail for times that you are away from your desk answering the most commonly asked questions and directing all non urgent communication from coworkers to email communication that will be checked at a designated time. This will only work for in house calls.

Over time, you will train your co workers to email you instead of constantly ringing your work phone.

4. Helping coworkers

There is no “I” in team but at some point we have to get our own work done!

There are times when we must rally to the cause to get everything done on big projects. Then there are times when you know that your coworker essentially plans to put as much work on your virtual plate as you will allow them to place on there.

Do this:

Be consistent with communicating that you need to complete your work first. Once your work is done you will be glad to help.

5. Talking to your co workers

A chatty Kathy (or Charles) can be found in every establishment of moderate size, what befuddles me is when they refuse to know that their relentless chatter is decreasing your productivity.

Maybe the very brief hall or cubicle talk makes your day, but incessant chatter undoubtedly decreases your productivity.

Do this:

If you have an office door, close it. If not, when your co worker attempts to chat, ask them if it can wait until you get done with your work.

Sometimes they still won’t get it! In that case, return to your work, and tell them that you really want to start putting a better effort into staying on task and ask them if they can hold you accountable.

6. Messy work area

A neatly organized work area can save you a ton of time. According to Reliable Plant,[1] studies have shown that the average person wastes 4.3 hours per week searching for papers, which adds stress and frustration to the workplace while reducing concentration and creative thinking.

Do this:

Take the time to label folders or bins to optimize your day to day tasks. Labels such as “to do,” “follow up later,” will be beneficial in increasing your productivity.

File papers away in their respective places as soon as you are done with them.

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7. Lack of prioritization

Lack of priorities is a productivity killer. If you don’t know where to start, how can you ever start producing results? Develop a game plan for being productive as soon as you enter work.

Do this:

Plan your work day out the day prior to increase productivity.

Create a mini to-do list that includes the tasks that you’ll work on as soon as you arrive at work.

Clean your desk off prior to leaving and be prepared to jump in as soon as you return to work.

8. Procrastination

Procrastination is a case of putting things off until the last minute in favor of doing absolutely nothing or some other task that is not getting you closer to completing your goals.

Do this:

Celestine points out the importance of breaking your action steps down into doable goals and then taking action.

Lifehack’s CEO also has great advice on this:

What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

9. Meetings

Meetings are essential but are notorious for being a waste of time.

Do this:

Create clear goals and have agenda for the meeting. Start the meeting on time and end it on time. Stick to the topics of the meeting in order to get the most value out of the time spent.

Also check out these 12 Secrets To a Super Productive Meeting You Should Know.

10. Office noise

Office noise can come from many sources. The number one distraction is noise from other humans.[2]

Offices can get really loud when iTunes compete for air space (at least use your earbuds people), your co-workers yell to people across the room, talk to themselves, chew gum loudly (why is this allowed), and phone conversations are taking place – seemingly all at once.

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Do this:

Closing your door, if you have one, works well in this case. If not, talking to you co worker about their habits will be best.

Start by scheduling some time to talk to your co worker. Ask them if there are any behaviors that you display that are distracting to them.

Thank them for pointing out any of your behaviors. Then assert that you would like to do the same. This may seem a bit uncomfortable but share your concerns in a nice way and hopefully office noise will improve.

11. Constantly checking social media

According to Pew, the average American uses at least three social platforms.[3] While the exact percentages vary by age, 51% of Facebook users stated they visit the site several times a day. 40% of the user stated that it would be hard to give it up.

Do this:

Use your personal social platforms on your break or at lunch. You can try this 20-second rule to get rid of distractions or take these steps to disconnect from social media:

9 Steps to Disconnect from Social Media and Connect With Life Again

12. Boredom

Most Americans become bored at their job from citing issues such as mundane tasks, lack of opportunity for advancement, and loss of motivation in general.

Do this:

Choose to think new thoughts and decide to take action to increase your productivity. List three things in your life that are possible because of your job.

But most importantly, find out the real reason why you feel bored at work:

What to Do When Bored at Work (And the Reason Why You Feel Bored)

13. Multitasking

Studies have shown that multitasking on complex test decrease efficiency and productivity significantly. Our brains do not complete tasks simultaneously but rather switches tasks and the start/stop/start process is a real energy drain.

Do this:

Prioritize your tasks based on deadlines or urgency then focus on one task until it is complete so that you will become more efficient. This guide will help you stop multitasking to boost productivity:

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How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

14. Eating

Workplace celebrations are often accompanied by food. These activities include baby shower, promotions, retirement parties. The sugary processed snacks or not the most ideal sources of nutrition.

Washington post gathered data from The Centers for Disease Control which found that adults consume nearly 1300 calories per week from food and beverage that they got at work.[4] Naturally we want to be acknowledged and celebrated here and there but hanging out at the party can take time from tasks that you have been putting off.

Do this:

Congratulate the person that is being celebrated. Choose the healthiest food options (or a small amount of indulgent food), and get back to work:

25 Healthy Snacks for Work: Decrease Hunger and Increase Productivity

15. Workplace bullying

Statistics from Workplace Bullying Institute report that bullying is present in today’s workplace and an alarming 72% of employers denied, discount, encourage, rationalize, or defend it.[5]

Bullying can be verbal and constant. Therefore it may be harder to prove without the support of coworkers that have witnessed it. This behavior is completely distracting and stressful.

Do this:

Document instances of bullying. Seek the support of a trusted coworker. Report the accounts of bullying to the proper authorities.

In most cases, this can be disclosed in human resources departments.

The bottom line

Workplace distractions will never go away. In order use our time effectively we must set up a system and boundaries to be more effective. I have given you 15 solutions to workplace distractions. Implementing as many as possible will be a game changer for you and you will be confident when you ask for your next raise.

How you you react the next time you are distracted at work?

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Mary Stewart

Mary Stewart is a wellness coach. She helps successful professionals and entrepreneurs to take back control of their life and work.

How to Stop These 15 Distractions at Work From Impacting Your Career

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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