The modern workplace is rife with distractions killing your and your employees’ productivity. Whether it’s taking a break to browse the internet, responding to seemingly urgent phone calls or chatting to a co-worker popping over to your desk with the latest news from the grapevine, there’s always something demanding your attention.
There will always be some form of distraction on a daily basis, but how well you manage it is key. Don’t fret, we’re not suggesting you sit at your desk with your eyes fixed to the computer screen for 8 hours. There are ways to increase your productivity without turning into a mindless office drone. Before we start looking at apps to stay focused at work, here is a list of the most popular time-thieves and productivity killers you may encounter:
- Too much background noise or loud and distracting music;
- The internet – social networking and entertainment websites (think Buzzfeed, Distractify and Fail Blog);
- Impromptu meetings – unscheduled meetings and other social interactions that end up wasting a lot of valuable time;
- Bad design – uncomfortable seating and cramped desks are often linked to bad health, comfort and productivity.
Distractions can be good in that they can keep you from burning out by momentarily taking your mind off work. But, if not carefully managed, they can also prevent you from getting your work done, which will cause stress and frustration. Below we shared some useful tips and desktop apps to help you stay focused and become a productivity machine.
This app is based on a popular time management technique (Pomodoro) that challenges you to concentrate on a single task for 25 minutes without any interruptions and then rewarding yourself with a 5-minute break when the app’s alarm notification pops-up.
You can also list your tasks for the day and track your time spent on each. FocusBooster is compatible with both PC and Mac.
FocusWriter is particularly useful when you work in the creative industry or your job requires a lot of general writing.
This Mac and PC app is perfect for when you want to set aside a specific time for a writing task and not be distracted by anything else. It recreates your word processor program, but blocks out everything else on the screen. All you will see are the words you type on a plain grey background – no email pop-ups and social or IM notifications.
Monitor your health
Make sure to sleep enough, eat healthily and drink adequate amounts of water to keep your energy levels high. Even mild dehydration will make you feel tired, irritable and sluggish. As a result of feeling down, you’ll be even more susceptible to distraction.
Eat a healthy, filling breakfast before going to work in the morning. If you’re unsure about the amount of nutrients you’re getting from your diet, consider taking supplements to give you that extra boost. And if you like to snack throughout the day, keep some healthy treats at your desk and ditch the crisps and sweets that will make your blood sugar spike.
Make yourself comfortable
A cramped desk and uncomfortable chair will leave you irritable and in pain during the day. Back or shoulder pain is a sure-fire way to kill your productivity. Take regular short breaks and walk around the office before going back to your desk. Even a 5-minute walk will refresh your mind, giving you a little boost to complete the task at hand.
Consider investing in ergonomic chairs or adjustable stand-up desks to give yourself and your employees a break from sitting hunched over keyboards all day. Comfort and productivity levels will soar, not to mention employee morale in general.
Christine Kleyn is the content manager for Maestro Pressure Coolers in the UK and her articles have been featured on several health, wellbeing and productivity sites. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.
Image © Marc Phu via Flickr