While we are surrounded by tech meant to make our lives easier, more convenient and more efficient, we also can find ourselves being easily distracted from our task at hand by the same technology that’s meant to support us.
To be successful long-term, firms absolutely have to keep their technology and tech skill sets up to date, but how do you also keep your team from wasting time on digital distractions?
Here are five ways you can have your technology cake and eat it, too:
1. Set Boundaries
It used to be a lot easier to tell team members that their cellphones were limited to emergency use only during the workday. Now, many more people work remotely, use their phones for work on the go, and even need to have two factor authentication codes sent to cell phones for work logins. While it still is a great recommendation to put your cell phone outside of arm’s reach when working on a project, it is less practical than it used to be.
This is one way tech can help us though. Set time parameters on your cellphones, use productivity apps, or even consider app blockers to prevent the temptation of logging in to apps like social media during working hours.
2. Hit Unsubscribe
Email can be incredibly distracting, especially if your settings allow new mail to pop up throughout the day. Especially when you’re trying to focus on project completion, anything that is interrupting your brain from the task at hand is going to reduce your productivity. Aside from just shutting email down during a project focus time, also go through and unsubscribe from emails you don’t need to have.
You can end up subscribed to a thousand emails you will never read throughout your internet adventures of reading articles and buying products only to find yourself suddenly subscribed to more information than you ever needed. Beat those pop ups by just getting rid of them.
3. Use Background Noise or Headphones
Depending on your preferences, pick a modality that will help you focus. Some of us work better with background noise and we may find it very uncomfortable to work in complete silence. Others will prefer the quiet and be easily distracted by a noisy environment. A pair of noise cancelling headphones might help in either scenario. Find background music to help you concentrate or simply put them on to block out noise around you. These have become a work from home necessity for us.
4. Schedule Breaks
If you’ve formed a habit of picking up your phone and opening social media, games or other apps throughout the day, breaking up with them cold turkey can feel uneasy, like any other diet you’re on when all you can think about is pizza and French fries. Instead, schedule appropriate breaks for yourself throughout the day and allow yourself short bursts to catch up on what you want or mindlessly scroll if that’s what you like.
Most research suggests a 25-minute work block to a five-minute break ratio is the most beneficial when you are trying to be productive. Use a timer to alert you to the end of each block and see how your focus improves.
5. Use Voice Commands and AI Tools
Anything you can do to reduce the number of times you pick up your phone or toggle away from what you’re working on will help improve your productivity and cut down on distractions. Instead of reaching for your phone, use tools like Siri, Alexa or Ask Google to do it for you. You will be able to get what you need in that moment without the temptation to open another app or browser tab and end up distracted from what you were trying to accomplish.
AI dictation tools also exist now for almost every virtual meeting software which is a great way to keep yourself hands free during meeting times. I have been known to take meeting notes on my phone on occasion when I am on the go and then I have created a great excuse for me to pick my cellphone up when I need to refer back to them. An AI dictation tool can prevent this and also provide me with a searchable document post meeting.
Technology used in the right ways can truly support our growth and efficiency. We have to be willing to look at our behavior in the process though and take the necessary steps to ensure it’s being used to our benefit and not holding us back.