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Desk Escapes: The Quest for Quiet

Desk Escapes: The Quest for Quiet
    A sign like this at your desk just doesn't cut it.

    While distractions come at us every day, the moments of silence get fewer and fewer. Noise is everywhere, while quiet is almost nowhere. Fittingly, quiet moments have gotten really quiet in promoting themselves, while the noisiest places seem to blast their locations out louder than ever.

    If there’s one thing you most certainly need when you’re trying to get stuff done, it’s quiet. And since there’s so little room for quiet in the world these days (or so it seems, with 24 hour news cycles and a firehose of information optimized for anytime access known as the Internet), it’s no wonder that productivity can slow to a crawl.

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    There are several ways to take back those moments of quiet – some can be done from the realtive comfort of your desk, while others require an escape from the everyday. You may only need to step back from the barrage of noise for a moment to see marked improvement in your productivity or you may need to remove yourself from the environment altogether.

    But what if you need some quiet while working? Here are three ways that can get you closer to the sound of silence – and much closer to getting what you want to get done…done.

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    Use Headphones

    I used to work with a colleague who placed headphones on his ears for a great deal of the day, especially when he needed to focus. But he never played any music in them. He put them on his head to get the quiet he needed (and craved) and unless you knew his work habits, you assumed he was listening to music all the while. It was a clever tactic and it kept external noise – and people – at bay.

    Another strategy would be to actually play music through the headphones. Music can be a great motivator for some, so using it to keep you on track and singularly focused is a great way to get the quiet you need and deserve. Classical music or soft jazz can be a form of “quiet” for people, as it keeps distractions away. Sometimes quiet is just less noise. Headphones gives you the chance to get as little noise – and as much quiet – as you want.

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    Use the Door

    If you’ve got one, use it when you feel the need. A closed door is the universal sign of “don’t disturb me”, and you can further that meaning by explaining to your co-workers that when your door is shut that they shouldn’t even bother knocking.

    Now…if you keep your door closed much of the workday, then this tactic won’t exactly cut it. Pulling off this kind of escape from noise usually requires you to have an “open door policy” for much of the time. It’s hard to tell your colleagues to refrain from knocking on your door when you have it shut so often. You may want to try opening your door more often in this case – you may find that you can get work done with an open door that doesn’t require a lack of noise. And when you close your door you (and your colleagues) will know that it’s time for you to get down to some really focused work.

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    Kill Alerts

    Turn off every single notification you’ve got. Mute the phone. Turn off the visual notifications. Silence your computer. Don’t let anything detract you from the quiet atmosphere you’ve created. Get rid of the audible clutter (removing the visual clutter isn’t a bad idea, either) and you’ll find that the noise you’ve got in your workday may be bearable going forward. Bearable enough that it seems quiet by comparison.

    How do you grab a much-needed break from the noise while at your desk? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on November 12, 2020

    Learn How to Be Productive and Happy With These 11 Tips

    Learn How to Be Productive and Happy With These 11 Tips

    A lack of productivity leads to a lack of happiness. When you can’t see yourself making progress or getting things done, you get anxious and become stressful. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to be productive.

    There are also many things that contribute to unhappiness here: Facebook notifications, emails, texts, and chatty co-workers are just a small fraction of the disruptions we’re bombarded with. These “little things” can stack up fast and lead to hampering your happiness and productivity levels.

    Learn how to be productive with the 11 tips below and reclaim your everyday productivity and your happiness, once and for all.

    1. Be Happy Now

    Life is too short. No matter what you’re doing or where you are, be happy now. Start by finding something to be grateful for; everyone has at least one good thing in their life, and most have many more.

    Most of the world still has trouble getting access to clean drinking water…that means you can even be grateful for that bottle of Aquafina you’ve got on your desk right now.

    2. Finish Your Day Before It Starts

    Proper planning is the secret to peak productivity, and it’s also a good idea to set important goals daily. Get yourself a planning tool and prioritize your daily tasks with it in order to spend your time on important tasks.

    If you know exactly what you have to do and the timeframe you want to complete it in, you’ll be well on your way to learning how to be productive.

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    Here’s a smart technique on planning and prioritization: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    3. Celebrate the Small Wins

    Every time you check off a task from your to-do list, you release a “happy chemical” in your brain called dopamine. This gives you the motivation to move forward and do even more.

    For example, after I finish writing this article, and I’ve crossed it off my list of things to do today, I’ll get a nice burst of “happy chemicals” releasing in my brain. The best part? Zero side effects!

    4. Leverage Like There’s No Tomorrow

    Look for ways to use the 80/20 rule by identifying tasks that you might be able to outsource or leverage out to a virtual assistant.

    Stop wasting time doing things that don’t challenge you or ignite your passion. Hire out or automate anything and everything within your means.

    Don’t be afraid to trust others with tasks you believe they can do. They’ll likely be happy for the opportunity, and you’ll feel better about lowering the amount of work you have to get done.

    5. Recharge Your Batteries

    Figure out how many hours of sleep your body needs and make sure you get it. Take time to stretch, walk, or relax in order to recharge throughout the day and after work.

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    One study found that the best way to ensure consistent productivity throughout the day is to work for about 50 minutes, followed by a 15-20 minute break[1]. As you’re trying to learn how to be productive, follow this pattern to get started[2].

    Take breaks to be more productive

      Here are some simple ways to relax completely and get rid of stress.

      6. Become an Early Riser

      This is one of the most underused productivity “hacks” on the planet. Ever since I decided to start waking up at 5am every day, my productivity levels and happiness have gone up dramatically.

      Most people aren’t up that early, so no one can bother you or disrupt you from what you want to do. A productive person will use this time to exercise, meditate, or get a head start on their day.

      7. Do Work You’re Passionate About

      Make it your goal to blur the line between work and play by doing more things you’re passionate about. This promotes happiness both inside and outside of the workplace.

      Find what you’re passionate about and do it, even if it’s just through a hobby. Make time for the things you love and learn how to be productive more easily.

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      8. Use Time Blocks

      When I wrote this article, I gave myself a one hour time block. This prevents unnecessary dilly-dallying, like updating your social media and checking email. Instead, start developing better work habits and manage your time for a more productive day.

      There are plenty of apps that can help you do this, or you can simply set an alarm on your phone so you know when you can take a break and enjoy some free time. During your set time block[3], do your best to eliminate distractions. Find a quiet space, declutter your desk, and create a short to-do list to keep you on track.

      Time Blocking for Productivity

        9. Avoid Interruptions

        Interruptions are among the biggest barriers to both productivity and happiness. Every time you’re interrupted in the middle of a task, your level of productivity takes a hit.

        We’ve all been there: you’re fully immersed in an important project until all of a sudden the workplace chatterbox appears out of nowhere and starts talking the crazy night they had last weekend. By the time s/he’s gone, you’ve already forgotten where you were, and it takes 30 minutes to get back on track.

        Avoid this by letting people know that you’ve got important work that’s got to be done.

        Learn more about how to stay focus in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

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        10. Shut Down the Digital Disruptions

        iPhones, mailbox notifications, Twitter, Facebook, and everything that pops, slides, or fades in and out of your screen has got to go. Shut them down and focus when you want to learn how to be productive.

        It’s as easy as turning off the notifications or scheduling only a specific time to check all these notifications and texts.

        11. Measure Your Success

        Every now and then, it’s a good idea to measure your results and see how things are coming along.

        How’s your progress? Are you moving in the right direction? It’s always a good idea to track your progress regularly.

        Of course, in order to track you progress, you need to set specific milestones so you know that you’re on your way to achieving any big or small goal.

        The Bottom Line

        With these 11 effective tips, you’ll learn how to be productive and find more time to do the things that make you happy.

        Start small and take up each suggestion one-by-one. That way, you can boost your productivity, and create joy along the way.

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        Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

        Reference

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