It feels so very right to let distractions have their way with you at work. It’s like when go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. You don’t really need that ham or that ice cream or that bag of chips or that family pack of extra-large chocolate puddings. But your growling stomach says otherwise.
When you finally find your way to the checkout line, your cart is piled so high you could feed a small village… and then some. The same can be said about all those workplace distractions you let take advantage of you.
You don’t really need that gossip or that useless meeting or that 15th trip to the restroom. But you throw them on your plate anyways. When you find your way to the end of the day, your plate is just as full as it was when you got to work that morning.
When you’re dealing with smaller businesses, distractions run rampant, and they can affect employees quicker than a zombie outbreak can go from reasonably manageable to a human population of five. This is because everyone usually works so close to one another that they can hear each other perspiring.
Clearly, distractions aren’t good for business, especially since research has suggested time and time again that people aren’t as good at multitasking as they like to think they are – which means that not only will you struggle to get anything off your plate but when you do finish something, the end result will be mediocre at best. In fact, Harvard researchers say that focus is such a fragile thing, that anything from a ringing phone to a small vibration can send it into shock.
So what do you think happens to your focus and, subsequently, your productivity and quality of work when you spend 30 minutes chitchatting with a neighbor? Or when you try to divide your attention between that last minute report and that new YouTube video? Well, it’s nothing good.
Obviously, Harvard has a solution to these pesky workplace distractions, because it’s Harvard. But it comes in the form of long walks, emotion corralling, and soul-searching gazes into the eyes of your coworkers. Drinking a 30-year-old cup of tea spiked with farts and saggy skin sounds more appealing than that. So here’s what we recommend.
Be honest with yourself.
If you did do all that ridiculous soul-searching, what would you find out about yourself? Would you be accepting of this soul if it was the soul of someone else? In other words, are you that one person? That one person that always seems to be doing nothing but, at the same time, always complains that they have no time to do anything? You know… that one person that everyone hates? Be honest with yourself. You’ll find that it’s much easier to get yourself back on track when you know what’s really going on with yourself.
Is eight hours never enough time?
Eight hours is a long time, and if you’re truly a productive, distraction-free person, then you can get a lot done. Yes, there are anomalies to this, but odds are you aren’t one. So don’t give yourself that much star power. Most of us are not Zuckerbergs, Bezos, or Cooks – and on that note, I bet if you asked these people how much they can get done in a day and whether or not they take work home, you’d probably be very surprised by their answers. And then you’d probably want to go jump off a cliff. At the end of the day, if you feel like you’ve accomplished very little and if you feel like you have too much on your plate, then you need to reevaluate yourself and how you work.
Do you remember how to get home?
The majority of people have a place they like to call home when they’re at work. It might be a desk; it might be a closet that looks like an office, or it might be a set of three fully decked out computer monitors. Whatever the case is, how long has it been since you’ve been there? And about how much time do you actually spend there? Your work home should be your personal hub of productivity. It should be the place where stuff gets done and dreams come true. If you aren’t there for the large majority of the day, then you have yourself a problem. Usually, this comes in the form of serial chit-chatting, or in other words, you like to hop around from office-to-office shooting the breeze with everyone and anyone. Yeahhhh… don’t do that.
This can also go the other way – if your work home is the unofficial nightclub of your business, knock it off and get to work.