Maximizing Productivity: 3 Ways to Cut Distractions and Focus on Deep Work
In a world that glorifies multitasking and constant connectivity, it’s no surprise that many office workers find themselves struggling to stay focused and productive. The metric black hole, as Cal Newport calls it in his book Deep Work, is where many of our activities fall into – it’s a place where the costs of our actions are measured, but often not fully understood. Email, for instance, may seem productive as we push words around in the company, but more often than not, it’s a distraction that deters us from accomplishing our most important tasks. In this article, we’ll explore 3 ways to cut distractions and pull productivity out of that black hole.
1. Take a New Approach to Email
Email is the primary way that most companies communicate, and it can be a productivity-stealing beast if not managed properly. To get on top of this, you need to take drastic action. First, limit the number of times you check your email to twice a day, at most. Set a time limit for each email block, and use the Pomodoro productivity method to help you stay on track. This method allows one 25-minute block per day to go through your email; putting this time limit on email means that it can’t expand into all your available time.
Secondly, schedule most of your email using tools like Right Inbox. This ensures that you’re not playing email tag as you try to clear your inbox, and replies keep coming in. Remember to turn off all email notifications, as they tend to distract you from the task at hand.
Thirdly, never check your email first thing in the morning. Instead, figure out the night before what your most important task is and focus on it until you have your scheduled email block. This allows you to prioritize your work and stay on track without being bogged down by unnecessary emails.
4. Turn Off Notifications for Slack / Hipchat / Messaging
Group-messaging tools can be great for team communication, but they can also be a significant distraction if not managed well. As with email, it’s essential to turn off all notifications on your chat tools and quit the application in favor of scheduled check-ins. This makes it easier for you to focus and avoid the expectation of having to respond instantly to every message, no matter how trivial.
5. Avoid Unnecessary Meetings
Meetings can be a significant drain on productivity, costing companies thousands of dollars in terms of salaries for the staff present. Refuse to attend any meeting that doesn’t have a clear agenda and a single clear decision that you need to be involved in at least 48 hours in advance. Challenge any meeting that you feel may not be necessary, and ask your boss which item needs to get bumped off your task list to accommodate the meeting. Often, you’ll find that the super-important meeting isn’t that important after all.
Distractions are everywhere and can easily pull us away from our most important work. By taking a new approach to email, turning off notifications for group-messaging tools, and avoiding unnecessary meetings, you can regain control of your day and increase your productivity. It’s important to remember that the most successful people are those who can focus on their work and block out distractions. By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you’ll be able to contribute more to your workplace, achieve greater success, and enjoy a more fulfilling life.