How do you deal with remote workplace distractions?

We all take on a lot. That, in and of itself, can be the biggest workplace distraction. Ironic, isn't it? Kat reminds us that we should focus on one thing at a time.

@workingrem A4: Work is my biggest work distraction. Due to having over 10 active clients at any given time & many short-term & long-term projects, I get pulled in many different directions at once throughout the day. Often have to remind myself to focus on 1 thing at a time. #remotechat

Easy to say, but how is it in practice? The following tips may help you stay focused on one thing at a time:

  • Set a timer for a specific time. Don't stop working on your priority until it's done.
  • Make a commitment to complete the task before switching to another.
  • Relocate yourself to another location, like another room or a coffee shop, and set a goal to complete the priority before you move.
  • De-clutter your workspace. If you're looking at something else in your periphery, you're not focused on your task. Get rid of visual reminders that you have other things to do!
  • Turn off the notifications on your phone and place it face down, or better yet, use airplane mode!
  • Shut down any other apps on your computer that may distract you.

Track your Time

Keeping track of your time could be a great way to add some discipline and focus. For those of us who are working for another company, this may seem counterintuitive. It may already come as second nature for people working on their own. There are tons of time trackers for billing purposes, but RescueTime has been mentioned several times in #RemoteChat and warrants mentioning here. Per their web site, RescueTime tracks "time spent on applications and websites, giving you an accurate picture of your day." Just having an awareness of how you're spending your time may be enough to change your habits.

Phone Addiction

Do you have an unhealthy relationship with your device? You're not alone, and phone addiction is real. When you're scrolling through Instagram or checking your likes on Facebook, you're not working. Turning off your notifications can go a long way toward cutting down on your usage (I've tried this with all of my apps except email, and it has worked wonders). Similar to RescueTime, there are also tracking apps for your phone like Moment, so you can see just how your time is being used. Samus also talked about how switching your phone to grayscale (see this New York Times article) can also help cut usage.

Apps and Games

Earlier in my career, I had a gaming problem. If I was bored or in between tasks, I would break out Need for Speed or Age of Empires. I had a steering wheel for NFS, and the gameplay for AoE could take hours. I spent time moving virtual armies and trebuchets around when I should have been doing something more productive. The quickest way to get rid of a habit like this is to lose the game. I uninstalled and sold both of those games, and I didn’t miss them. The proliferation of apps on our phones has the potential to introduce the same problem. There are games that take just a few minutes, which is fine. There are games that can consume hours, and those are not fine. In fact, they’ve been engineered to prey on our addictive tendencies. I recognize those for what they are, delete them, and am far happier (and productive) for it. Have the vigilance to recognize anything that is taking up far too much of your time - be it games, chores or anything else - and kick it to the curb.

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