Quick intro: This is one in a series of my Top 10 Productivity Hacks – a series of blog posts detailing the little tips and tricks designed to make you more productive. At the end of the series, I will be posting an overview post.
Productivity Hack #1: Remove all distractions before starting your work.
Seems simple, right? In many ways, this tip is extremely simple, but I’m always surprised by the number of people telling me they are struggling to concentrate on their work and then discover they always have their phone lying beside them, with notifications popping up every few minutes. There are countless distractions nowadays, but also many small tips we can put in place to prevent them from taking our focus away from our most important tasks.
Sources of distraction to eliminate:
- Background noise – while some people love a bit of background noise like a coffee shop or office environment, there are many people (including myself) that find it extremely distracting! If possible, working in a quiet place e.g. a bedroom with a closing door can make a huge difference. If this isn’t possible, I highly recommend investing in a pair of noise cancelling headphones (here is the link to mine).
- Email checking and writing – we all know how distracting e-mails can be. When an email notifications pops up, there are two choices: stop what you are doing to read/reply to the email or stay on task and address the email later. Many people will choose the first as it provides a source of new information and can be exciting (or at least more exciting than the current task). However, switching between tasks can lead to a feeling of being extremely busy and not finishing anything. The best way of tackling this is to work in offline mode or close the email app and set aside dedicated time to look at your emails.
- Phone notifications – The average person checks their phone around 50 times a day, often not just for a few minutes. This can add up to a huge amount of time, which is often just scrolling through social media or catching up on the news. When we pick up our phone to ‘just check one thing’, it’s not uncommon to spend 30+ minutes doing something completely unrelated without realising. To stay focused and lessen the distraction, I recommend: moving your phone away from you (out of arm’s reach) or in a drawer (out of sight, out of mind!) and turning off all non-essential notifications.
- Social media notifications – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, LinkedIn… the list of apps that beg for our attention is endless and ever growing. There is a constant stream of new information and posts, which is addictive. Like with emails and phone notifications, it’s very helpful to set specific time blocks when you will check social media and turn off all non-essential notifications.
Look out for productivity hack #2 in a few days!