[title size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”40″ class=”” id=””]Reducing Distractions[/title]

WOW … it’s already mid July, and I don’t know about you but I really need to reclaim my time and increase my productivity if I’m going to achieve those (VERY ambitious!) goals I’ve set for myself and my business this year… so I thought I’d share with you my top tips for reducing distractions, and how I plan to supercharge my schedule this month.

[title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”20″ class=”” id=””]Phone Calls[/title]

If you find that you are constantly interrupted by the phone ringing, consider turning off your phone during peak work hours. You can avoid missing callers by having a voicemail service installed on your phone and even letting others know that you won’t take non-essential calls during specific times – e.g. from 2-4pm.

This will allow you to block out periods where you can get stuck into a task, without interruption. You might also like to implement a system where your team instant messages one another to check that it’s ok to call. If it’s not, a quickly typed ‘Call you in 10 minutes’ is far less distracting than losing your train of thought with a conversation.

[title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”20″ class=”” id=””]Instant Messaging[/title]

On that, while instant messaging can be useful, it can also be a lazy person’s way of interrupting you without having to get up and walk into your office. What’s more, when used for chit-chat, it can also sap hours from your day.

The best way to discipline your use of it is to make sure it’s used for quick queries and the phone or email is used for longer, more involved discussions. Again, you don’t have to be available on instant messenger all day – you can either set your status to ‘busy’ or just let your team know specific times when you’ll be online, so they’ll know when to catch you for their quick queries.

[title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”20″ class=”” id=””]The Internet[/title]

We’ve all fallen prey to the allure of surfing the net when we have a few minutes of downtime. However, these minutes, when added up, can quickly turn into big chunks of our day lost trawling news sites, responding to mail on social network sites or just idle browsing – time that could have definitely been spent more productively.

If you need to keep abreast of breaking news in your industry, do your reading – either news sites or newspapers – before you get to work, so you’re already prepared and won’t be tempted to hop on news sites to kill time (or boredom!). If you find yourself constantly tempted to check your personal mail or social networking sites, sign out of them and close your browser. If you have to keep logging in, it should be enough of a reminder that you need to get back to work!

If you STILL can’t say no to checking the latest Tweets, install software applications such as Freedom and Anti-Social which help eliminate online distractions. Both these programs allow you to specify which websites you want to block, as well as set a timer for how long you want them to block you.

[title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”20″ class=”” id=””]Co-workers[/title]

While a few minutes of ‘water cooler’ time can be a welcome break from an intense period of concentration, you need to ensure other people in your office don’t create distractions that are holding you back.

If you find co-workers are keen to casually stop by for a chat, keep your door closed and ask that when it’s not open that they respect you aren’t disturbed unless it’s an emergency. If you’re a manager and you’ve always promoted an ‘open door’ policy, think about using a boardroom or empty meeting room to solicit some ‘quiet working time’.

Another great trick is to use headphones – you don’t have to be listening to music for them to be effective either. Nowadays the open plan style of offices can make it particularly hard to keep your concentration, so just pop in some earphones and knuckle down. You’ll find people are far less likely to interrupt someone if they have earphones in.

[title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”20″ class=”” id=””]Health and Wellbeing[/title]

It’s vital for sustained periods of concentration to ensure you are looking after your health and well being. This means arriving at work well rested and staying hydrated and partaking in a healthy diet during the day. Having heavy lunches certainly won’t help your concentration in the afternoon and nor will dehydration, which can make you feel tired and less alert. If you find yourself wanting to nod off, don’t reach for a sugary snack, instead, take a brisk walk around the block which can do wonders for your energy levels.

From reading the above tips, you’ll probably have identified the main things that distract you most – whether it’s phone calls, incessant emails or annoying but well-meaning co-workers. Even following just a few of the strategies above can significantly increase your productivity time during the day and while you won’t be able to eliminate distractions completely, reducing at least some of them will see your stress levels lower and your output increase.