Life is full of distractions--now more than ever. We have a database of the world's knowledge available to us at the tap of a screen. Social media constantly bombards us with the latest news in the world or in the lives of our friends. Our minds have adapted to constant stimulus, leaving us reaching for our phones in the smallest of lulls.
These many distractions have an unfortunate effect on our working lives. They detract from productivity and make time fly by. If you're feeling frustrated and looking to improve your output, there are steps you can take to do so.
Limit Screen Time. The first step is to eliminate these many distractions to the best of your ability, and the biggest distraction most likely comes to you in the form of your phone. Turn it off or place it out of reach so that you are not tempted to hop on whenever you get a notification.
We spend a great deal of our day looking at screens and it's not healthy for the eyes or the mind. We are also not meant to be constantly switching between tasks--the human brain is not wired that way. Try to focus on one thing at a time and take "screen breaks" when you can afford to.
Listen to Music. Did you know certain genres of music are said to enhance productivity? Slower-paced music with no vocals or lyrics is most beneficial. Classical music, video game soundtracks, or your favorite cinematic score would all serve you well.
Alternatively, ambient noise such as sounds of nature or a coffee shop can aid focus. If you can't pack your desk up and carry it to the nearest coffee shop, YouTube has plenty of ambient tracks for you to choose from.
Set a Schedule. Perhaps the most vital step in maximizing your output is managing your time. Structure can go a long way in aiding productivity levels. Think about what time of day you are the most productive; for example, if you work best in the morning, make that the time you tackle your biggest tasks.
Draw up a schedule for yourself, allotting time for both work and breaks. Acknowledge your capabilities while doing so. Don't give yourself more work than you can handle. Leave some wiggle room in there too, just in case the unexpected occurs. Finally, throw in something to look forward to--a little reward at the end of the week for a job well done.
Leave Perfectionism at the Door. One thing that can hinder some of us is the constant strive for perfection. If you get lost in the details, you will never find your way out of the maze. Take a step back and look at the big picture. A completed project with minor flaws is worth more than a project that is not completed at all. Understand that nothing and no one is perfect and you can lose valuable time to the pursuit of perfection.
Discipline Yourself. If you cannot discipline yourself to eliminate distractions, avoid procrastination, or stick to a schedule you set, then you won't get very far. Self-discipline takes a great deal of reflection and acknowledging your flaws so that you may overcome them. It's often best to start with small bad habits and work towards larger ones from there.
If you are not the self-disciplinarian type, ask a trusted friend or coworker to hold you accountable for completing your work.
Never Stop Learning. Expanding your mind is a surefire way to keep your attention focused on the task at hand, which will serve to maximize your productivity. Always take the opportunity to learn new information in your field of work. It will keep you from stagnating and sharpen the mind.
Speaking of which, PBI has learning opportunities available every week--and on August 10th is a live simulcast all about the science of productivity! This workshop will cover powerful techniques you can utilize as well as how to handle heavy workloads, how to stay motivated, and much more! If you enjoyed this blog post and want to learn even more about how to increase your productivity, be sure to check it out.