Ping. Ping, ping.
Do you open your phone or office email the minute you get a new message? More than just a bad work habit, constantly checking notifications may be monopolizing your workday.
A survey cited in SHRM found that “the average U.S. office worker spends more than three hours each day trying to keep up with work email.” Another survey showed that knowledge workers are so busy with communication tools that 40% of them never get 30 straight minutes of focused work time.
If you want to better manage your workplace productivity, consider these tips to minimize digital distractions.
Put Away the Cell Phone
According to the Harvard Business Review, “today’s smartphone users check their phones 150 times a day, which is the equivalent of spending 2.5 hours a day just opening and closing the phone.” It’s no wonder, then, that many businesses have created policies to reduce digital interruptions. To avoid distraction – and temptation – silence notifications and place your phone in a drawer or someplace where you can’t check it as regularly.
Set Up Email Filters & Rules
To carve out more focus time at work, make your email alert system work for you. “Filtering through senders is an especially quick and powerful hack,” says Asana. “If the sender isn’t from @yourcompany.com, filter those emails to a separate inbox so you can catch up on them later.” Similarly, you can direct emails from vendors or publications you follow to sub-folders, so they don’t clutter up your main inbox.
Schedule in Focus Time
If you need a strategy to stay focused, try the Pomodoro Technique, which stresses a short burst of concentration followed by a brief rest. Set a timer and aim for 15-20 minutes of focused work, followed by a five-minute break. You can gradually work up to 30 or even 45 minutes of uninterrupted productivity before taking a break.
Use alerts to let co-workers know you are blocking out time to work uninterrupted, and that you will reach out to them later.
The rise in remote work has increased the number of potential work-hour digital distractions, from video meetings to emails to team messaging. A Forbes article suggests leaders should empower their team members to work offline for a few hours a day – and that management set the example.
“Part of the heightened desire to stay constantly connected stems from leaders checking in more frequently to ensure work is getting done, and team members staying online for longer hours and responding to emails immediately to prove they are ‘on it.’” However, Forbes says leaders need to communicate the expectation that, “emails and messages, unless highly urgent, do not need to be responded to immediately.”
Just as you would clear a cluttered desk, you also should tidy your digital workspace by closing apps, websites and tabs that you aren’t currently working on. And if you realize you automatically delete certain newsletters or publications as soon as they appear, do yourself a favor and take a moment to unsubscribe.
Technology can help us accomplish more in our workday – or it can block true productivity. Being mindful of the ways in which our devices lure us away from our work can help us take steps to reduce technology distractions.
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Filed under TechTalk, Career Chat