Drowning out the noise: how to be productive in a world of constant distraction

Ding! Your cell phone notifications go off for the 10th time today. You just sat down at your computer to begin a project when 5 new emails pop up. You’re now completely distracted and overwhelmed. Constant communication can a beautiful thing, and in professional settings it’s crucial. But, how are these distractions affecting productivity?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Americans work an average of  8.9 hours  a day. By reducing distractions, Americans would be able to work more efficiently and reduce the time spent at work. Here are a few common distractions and how to avoid them.

1. Social Media

A huge chunk of time (averaging  1.72 hours  a day) is spent scrolling through news feeds. A few tips for managing this time suck are as follows.

  • Turn off social media app notifications. Most of the time, we get distracted by social media notifications that don’t have anything to do with us. “John Doe liked a photo that you commented on 200 days ago.” Okay Facebook, I really didn’t need that notification!
  • Designate specific times to check social media. If you designate a specific time of day that you are “allowed” to look at your social media platforms, it will positively impact your productivity and help keep all of the unnecessary chatter at bay.

2.  Email

Don’t let email control you. For most of us, our email inbox acts as a “to-do” list, and it can get overwhelming. As you scroll through your inbox, make a list of the things you have to do that day first, and then additional items that can come second. That way, you have a literal “to-do” list when you are done reading through emails.

  • When it comes to email replies, people appreciate a quick response, so it is always good to let them know that you’ve received their email and will get back to them in a timely manner.
  • It’s always good to carve out time in your day for email-free and distraction-free work. The email-free time can be a time to focus and get a lot done.

3. Sensory Overload

Everyone needs time to clear their heads and think about new, innovative ideas. Something that really helps  reduce stress and increase focus  is meditation. During meditation, the mind has time to assimilate information and release thoughts that aren’t helpful. The  Headspace app  will help you begin your meditative journey.

  • Take time to unplug over the weekend and recharge your batteries. This will help prevent burnout and in cultivating new ideas.
  • Make sure to take “me time” every day. Even if it’s just going for a jog, time for you is important for your health. When you have time for yourself, it will make every part of your life more enjoyable.

Easy as pie, right!? Of course it takes time to adjust and create new habits, but if you are able to reduce distractions and stay on track, you will be less stressed, more productive, and have more time to do things you truly enjoy doing.