Email is just one of many distractions that can affect your productivity.
How often are you distracted at work?
It's a question that's almost laughable, right? Most of us are distracted several times, if not dozens of times, every day.
We get emergency emails and phone calls. We take breaks to browse the Internet. Co-workers walk into our office for a quick chat, or send us amusing instant messages.
It doesn't matter where you work or what you do, you probably deal with distractions on a daily basis. And these distractions are costly: A 2007 study by Basex estimated that distractions cost U.S. businesses $588 billion per year, and this high cost is likely repeated in organizations around the world.
What's more (and depending on the complexity of our work), regaining concentration after a distraction can take quite a few minutes. If we're distracted 10 times a day, multiply the time lost by 10, and it's easy to see why we sometimes don't get much quality work done.
Learning how to minimize distractions can dramatically increase your productivity and effectiveness, as well as reduce your stress. Without distractions, you can get into flow , produce high-quality work, and achieve much more during the day.
In this article, we'll discuss the most common distractions we face at work, and we'll look at strategies for minimizing or eliminating them.
While email is incredibly useful, it's also one of the biggest work distractions we face. Many of us could spend entire days simply reading and responding to emails.
Keep your email program closed – When you're not using your email program, close it entirely – or at least turn off the visual or audible alerts that distract you. This eliminates the temptation to check it constantly.
Most email programs will also allow you to fetch new email manually with a "send/receive" button, or will allow you to set it to get new email automatically at certain times of the day (every three hours, for example).
See our article on Managing Email Effectively for more strategies on minimizing the distractions caused by email. Our article Overcoming Information Overload , and our Expert Interview on Managing Email with Mike Song, may also be helpful.
A disorganized desk or office can be very distracting. When your work space or work life is disorganized, it can be difficult to think and plan clearly.
"When I started using Mind Tools, I was not in a supervisory position. Now I am. Along with that came a 12% increase in salary." – Pat Degan, Houston, USA
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