If you’ve ever looked back at your day and felt like you didn’t get anything done, you’re definitely not alone. Steve McClatchy, author of “Decide, Work Smarter, Reduce your Stress and Lead by Example,” shared the four most common workplace distractions and how to avoid them.
Time waster #1: Social media
McClatchy says the two biggest time wasters at work are social media and the internet. A study by OfficeTeam found that one hour of our time at work goes to scrolling through our phones, and we look at our phones an estimated 80 times a day.
McClatchy recommends managing the notifications on your phone so you can control how often they pop up, potentially curbing your impulse to be constantly checking it. Or try an app like App Detox, where you can set rules for how much time you want to spend on your app, and it will lock the app and prevent you from using it.
“It’s ironic we’re using technology to limit the use of technology, but it’s where we are today,” McClatchy says.
Time waster #2: Interruptions at work
While we’re all guilty of chatting with our colleagues throughout the day, those constant interruptions can pose a challenge to productivity.
“There are times to be social and there are times when we need to be productive,” McClatchy says.
He recommends being vocal when faced with interruptions, by steering the conversation back towards the work you were in the middle of when you started chatting. He also says you should block off specific times in your calendar for projects, so people know you’re unavailable and you can focus on your work.
Time waster #3: Multitasking
McClatchy says people think they’re capable of multi-tasking, when in reality, it’s much harder to do.
“You can multitask a non-thinking activity and a thinking activity. So you can drive a car and talk to your colleague in the front seat,” he explains. “But you cannot participate in a meeting and reply to an email,” which are two thinking activities.
Time waster #4: Have a large to-do list
McClatchy says he has a to-do list, but it’s typically only a few items long. “When I see a to-do list that’s 12 to 15 tasks long, I know those tasks are going to roll over to each day,” and never get done, he says.
McClatchy recommends adding tasks to your phone calendar with a notification to do them only when they come up.
“If you can’t do it today, you shouldn’t look at it today,” he says.