Quick and (Almost) Painless Ways to Kill Distractions

Are you spending more time dealing with emails, IMs, phone calls, and random stray files than actually working? Here are ten actions you can do right now to kill distractions and get back to work:

Put headphones on

Wearing headphones is the universal sign for “do not disturb.” To make it obvious, choose big clunky ones instead of those tiny invisible earbuds. Even if you’re not listening to music, blocking out ambient noise will help you focus and stay on task.

Check email twice a day

If your email program checks for new email automatically and periodically, make it stop. Instead, manually check your email twice a day.

Tell everyone

To cut down the deluge of office emails, tell everyone in the office via email that you’re only checking email twice a day. This will train your coworkers to reconsider before sending you trivial messages.

Turn spam filtering on

Even with legislation, spam is never going away. You can eliminate this major distraction by turning on spam filtering.

Banish Growl

System-wide notification systems such as Growl are tiny distractions forcing you to log and consider each alert in your mind. You don’t need random reminders to plague your mind while you’re trying to concentrate.

Create IM office hours

Instant messenger programs are a distraction, but it has useful benefits for collaboration and keeping in touch with faraway loved ones. Create IM office hours -- short blocks of time where you’re available for chats.

Silence your phone

Your phone is an electronic dog leash. Release yourself from phone slavery and turn off the sound AND vibrate when you’re working. Your phone is only convenient if you’re in control of it.

Eat lunch out of the office

Eating lunch in the office makes you wide open to interruptions. Let yourself enjoy lunch away from work.

Become an early bird

No one likes to come in to work extra early in the morning. Use this trend to your advantage, and arrive at work before everyone else. Since no one is around, you’ll have fewer disruptions like phone calls and morning chatter.

Clear your desktop

Having tons of icons and files littering your desktop is like having a million squawking baby birds begging for your attention all the time. Clear your desktop now. While you’re at it, tidy up your real desk too.

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