We usually talk about ways to be more productive, but getting things done is always easier said than done. For every task that lay ahead, there is always something or someone happy to distract you from your work. Sometimes these distractions are welcome breaks and sometimes a small break can spiral out of control to be an all out unproductive hour. It’s hard, after all, to stay focused and motivated 100% of the time. Below is a look at the five greatest weapons in what I call, “The War on Productivity”.
1) Construction and other loud noises
As I write this, I am working from home. Why? Because today is the day (thank goodness!) that someone has come to fix the leak in our ceiling that happens to be right in front of my desk. What started out as sheer joy on my part that a life without buckets full of brown water greeting me as I enter the office would soon be over, quickly turned into pipes being cut through, clogs being unclogged and other generally loud construction noises. One half hour spent debating about leaving and a fifteen minute bus ride home, and I’m finally back to work.
2) RSS feeds
This is both a necessity for me, and a danger. On the one hand, part of my job is to be up to date on the latest news. On the other hand, when my little Google Reader tells me I have (14) new items to read, I can’t really focus till I’ve read them. I’ve had to create new reading times for myself, much like the people who check their email three times a day, now I only check my RSS feeds three times a day.
Again, a hazard of my job. Finding balance between staying in the know and actually getting things done can be hard, especially now that there is Twitter search. It’s endless entertainment! So endless in fact that it has once again been quarantined in my quest to accomplish more in one day, to special visits done in the morning and later afternoon.
Why, oh why, Facebook, must you send me emails notifying me that someone has commented on my status, or added me as a friend? Well, I know why, because it gets people like me to stop what they are doing a second, login to their account and then get sucked into the Facebook world. It’s strategic, it’s effective, and darn it - it’s just about the best weapon they have against productivity.
5) Smells, especially microwave popcorn
Recently our office was gifted a case of microwave popcorn. This is both a blessing (who doesn’t love popcorn?!) and a curse. Once a single bag of popcorn gets popping, that sweet smell of buttery, or in this case Smart Balance, goodness spreads throughout the office and literally forces me to stop what I am doing, appreciate the smell and remind myself that I can wait till later to have a snack.
So let’s hear it, what are your biggest distractions, and how do you work around/though/against them?