In the military, work distractions do occur and they can be just as detrimental to productivity as they are in civilian companies. In any environment, distractions at work are a fact of life, and achieving focus can be one of the hardest things to accomplish.
There is really nothing wrong with taking a time-out to break away from demands of a stressful work environment, and, indeed, small distractions are necessary. No matter how much Zen focus you have, it can be difficult to maintain your concentration – especially when working on something you don’t want to do. Unfortunately, even quick distractions can become time-consuming and reduce your productivity, so here are a few tips to help get you back on track.
Schedule your day to take advantage of your most productive hours. We all have certain hours within the day that we are in the zone and at our productive peak. Help yourself by scheduling your most important tasks or your “to dos” during that period.
Take voicemail messages instead of answering every call immediately. When the phone rings during your most productive hours, don’t be afraid of letting the message roll over to your voicemail. Review your messages at prescheduled intervals, handling the non-urgent calls at your convenience and taking care of the urgent ones right away.
Be direct and to the point when visitors or colleagues drop by. From time to time you may get people dropping by your office without notice. If these visits interrupt your work flow, get to the point quickly and then back to work. If the person you are talking to wants to engage in idle “chit chat,” don’t be afraid to politely excuse yourself and get back to work. They will get the message that you are busy and find someone else to talk to.
People with organized workspaces tend to be more productive. If you are one of those people who has stacks of papers around your desk or you have a tendency to squirrel away items in every nook and cranny available, you probably have difficulty managing your work flow. Instead of this, “clear the deck” and get rid of any unnecessary clutter. Set up action folders and keep them on top of your desk so that the items within it are never out of mind.
Focus on one task at a time. Having more than one high priority work item may cause you to lose focus and jump around, never actually completing any of them. Stay focused on one project at a time and see it through to completion before you start the next one. Having to mentally shift gears while moving from one project to another wastes time and can often lead to costly mistakes.
Keep the noise to a minimum. If overhearing co-workers discussions or one-sided phone conversations tends to distract your concentration, you may want to consider closing your door or use a small white noise machine.
The first step to keep from being distracted away from your work is being aware of the distraction. Once you recognize what is interfering with your work, you can make changes that will increase your productivity. Every office has its own specific distractions, so you may find yourself adding to this list depending on the circumstances of your working environment.