Work, Interrupted: Six Ways to Avoid Distractions

Work, Interrupted: Six Ways to Avoid Distractions

By Caroline Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs

Do you feel like you're always under the gun at work? Not getting enough done? It might not be your fault. Even if you're working 40-plus hours a week, you -- and most of your colleagues -- aren't spending all that time working.

What's behind this lack of productivity? Some of it may be blamed on inefficient management and poor communication as well as too many meetings. You may not have any control over these factors, but there are steps you can take to limit distractions, so that no one and nothing can interrupt you when you are trying to work.

Follow these suggestions from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), which surveyed senior executives to discover how they stay focused.

If You Have a Door, Shut It

Not everyone has an office with a door. In fact, now, many folks don't have offices, as open floor plans have gained favor in corporate America. But if you're lucky enough to have one, close it when you're trying to put your nose to the grindstone. If you don't want to be rude, post a small sign informing folks that you're on a deadline or an important call.

Budget Your Time

Have you ever wondered where the day went when you're leaving the office? If you make a careful schedule that accounts for all of your time and tasks -- free time, meetings, calls and quiet work time -- you'll be more likely to accomplish what you need to each day. Also, you'll always know exactly where the day went and what went into it.

Put Down Your Mobile Device

Constant but unscheduled phone calls and text messages are a common culprit when it comes to efficiency busters. Shut down your device or check it every hour or so, rather than keeping it at the ready when you're attempting to focus on a particular task.

Consider a Change of Scenery

When you're under pressure to complete a project, you may want to take your show on the road if you can. Work from home or off-site -- anywhere you can truly devote yourself without the possibility of interruption. If working remotely isn't possible, find a conference room or vacant office to squat in so you can get things done.

Stop Incessantly Checking Your Email

Remember the days before email? No one does. Today's professionals have become slaves to constantly checking their email. Take control of your inbox and limit how often you check on and address email to stay sane and focused on the job.

Off-Hours Are In

If you're cursed with coworkers whose conversation you cannot resist, a phone that won't stop buzzing or an email account that sees more incoming mail than the IRS on April 16, you may have to put in some time during off-hours. Try coming in earlier, staying later or dropping by the offices on the weekend to get at work that's getting pushed aside. This may not be ideal, but it may be what you need to stay on top of your responsibilities and get to the top of the corporate ladder.

Corey Criswell, a research associate with CCL, also suggests wearing headphones, if you're permitted, as a fun way to tune out distractions, such as idle conversations. And, if you're truly engaged in something, avoid eye contact every time a colleague walks by your desk. "People will think that you are too busy to be interrupted," adds Criswell.