Avoid distraction at work (and quantify the cost)

Avoid distraction at work (and quantify the cost)

Whilst we obviously go to work to… work, it’s also very important that we work in an enjoyable environment and look forward to going to work every day. A lot of businesses these days, go above and beyond to make the workplace fun. At SimilarWeb for example, we have a fully stocked beer fridge, quarterly events and most importantly we’re big on hiring for our company culture, which has a big impact on the vibe!

However the opening line is the most important, we go to work to work. Having an awesome environment can hinder this, and cause a plethora of distractions that prevent us being productive.

Check out this calculator (don’t worry, I’m not collecting your data!) to calculate what you make in a minute and subsequently see what things like playing games on your phone costs your company each year!

I’m not saying that this is unacceptable or that you should strive to be working 100% of the time, but there’s also hidden productivity costs like when you’re just ‘having a bad concentration day’ that can add up a lot. Remember the focus of this blog is how to be productive in order to advance your career, so it’s not about right or wrong, it’s about being the best version of you you can be in order to maximise the companies ROI in YOU. If you do that, good things will come.

Here’s a few tips to keep you in super productive mode even in the tough days

1) Invest in some high quality headphones

I recently bought the Samsung Galaxy Buds, which is their version of Apple’s AirPods. The buds are amazing, the sound quality is insanely good and the noise cancelling is awesome. Somebody on my team joked that they’ve made me negligent as a manager… so I’m conscious of when I use them but super productive when I do. It blocks the world out so I can focus.

The meme in the featured image of this blog is a fact of life though so headphones aren’t a solve for everything, if you’re a go-to person in the office then it doesn’t matter what you’re doing (even if you’re clearly on a call), people will come up to you.

You can also have more than 1 pair. People know if I have the Galaxy Buds in I’m doing what I call ‘headphone work’ and don’t want to be bothered. If it’s my other pair then by all means, come an interrupt me.

2) Take a break

I get the irony given the calculator… but sometimes you need to hit the reset button. I remember this as a tactic when I was at school and struggling in an exam – going to the bathroom just to get out of the environment and reset, often led to getting the answer within a few seconds when I went back.

If you’re really struggling to get what you need to do done, then walk away for 5 minutes and stop thinking about the problem. I think this is especially true for anybody in a creative role.

3) Work from a coffee shop

If distraction is everywhere in the office and you feel like you can’t escape… escape (assuming your manager’s okay with it). There’s a place near work that does amazing coffee, it’s my go-to if I need a caffeine fix in the morning, but there’s another place that’s an awesome coffee shop with chilled background music, sofas and decent wifi, that’s the anti-distraction place. A colleague of mine who’s particularly prone to getting frustrated by a noisy office frequently went there to get work done when he needed to get his head down.

Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery… but the caffeine doesn’t hurt!

4) Go for a run

It’s an extension of the 2nd point, but for me there’s literally nothing else in the world that clears my head like a run. Turn your lunch break into a productivity session by going out for some exercise (the gym also counts if you like that sort of thing).

Exercise is a great distraction (for the right reasons), it’s a form of mindfulness if you focus your attention on form and it releases endorphins that definitely help your productivity for the rest of the day.

5) Be honest

Sometimes you just need to ask people to leave you alone. I don’t do this often at all, but if I’m having a truly crazy day with a bunch of urgent stuff and seemingly no end in sight, one thing that drives me insane is my inbox pinging every 5 seconds. Isn’t it funny how email seems to be most active on the days that we have the least time to deal with it?

Anyway… on these days I may send an email to my team titled something like “Inbox is overflowing, please bear with me”. That buys me time to a) focus on the tasks at hand and b) ignore email without worrying it’ll annoy somebody. If somebody needs me, I know they’ll reach out a different way now and that means they’re more likely to only do that if something is truly urgent.

That’s all folks!

No score this month as it’s a collection of tips rather than a single definable ‘hack’. One tip however, is to use that calculator in conjunction with time tracking (checkout the reasons for time tracking here) to quantify the cost each activity has as you optimise what you do!

Hope you found this useful! See you next month 🙂

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