Written for TakeON! by Chris Walker of ON-Brand Partners
When it comes to getting distracted at work, Jason Fried blames the M&Ms. The first M is for managers, the second stands for meetings. Try to avoid exceeding the recommended daily dose of either!
In any office there are lots of distractions, mostly not of our own making, stopping us from doing our best work. It might be something external, like a major change or unplanned event, or something from our personal lives. But more often than not it’s just the way that we work as individuals and teams. And when it happens all of the time – productivity is seriously impacted.
I watched a TED talk by Jason Fried that pinned the problem on M&M’s – Managers (whose job it is to interrupt people) and the Meetings that the Managers call (to achieve the necessary degree of interruption).
Thinking about my previous workplaces, he may have a point - but eliminating your manager may prove a little challenging! Here are a few simple(r) ideas:
1. Think about the meaning and purpose of your role. It will make it easier to prioritise.
2. Share the problem with your manager and workmates, and work on a solution together.
3. Make more use of online/collaboration tools, and reduce the number of in-person meetings and discussions, making the distractions easier to manage.
4. Create uninterrupted time (individuals or teams), focus on one thing, and get it done. There are lots of useful practices, but it’s a case of whatever works. One of my colleagues wears industrial earmuffs when he wants to concentrate on a particularly challenging problem!
5. Try to spend more time doing less. Research shows that “more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations boosts productivity, job performance and health”.
If you or your team are getting distracted at work, and are finding it difficult to do your best work – there plenty you can do to take control and get the focus where it needs to be.
Watch Jason Fried's TED talk here
Read the NY Times piece about how relaxation increases productivity