Do distractions dictate your day? It’s likely. Studies suggest that the average worker is interrupted 56 times per day—that’s approximately every eight minutes. Not only are you constantly interrupted, but also think about all the time you waste getting back on track after each of those interruptions.
In his book Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Become More Productive, Edward M. Hallowell offers this advice for managing distractions:
• Control your electronics—don’t let them control you. For one week, log how much time you spend using software and applications, talking on the phone, checking and responding to email, surfing the Web and using social media. Then estimate how much of that time was used working on your high-priority tasks. You will quickly identify time-wasters that you can eliminate.
Set time limits for when you use technology; for example, blocking out 30 minutes each morning and afternoon to check email.
• Stop thinking multitasking works. Going back and forth between tasks is inefficient because you have to take time to refocus each time you change directions. Especially when it comes to your most important tasks, force yourself to concentrate for blocks of time—even 20 minutes—before you switch to a new task.
• Don’t mistake activity for progress. Just because you’re busy, it doesn’t mean that you are productive. The majority of your day should be spent focusing on your top priorities and those tasks that move you toward your goals.
— Adapted from “Managing Office Distractions Boosts Workplace Productivity,” www.hartfordbusiness.com.