Dominating Distractions in Life, Part 2

How can you create the perfect working environment?

In the first part of our series on dominating distractions, we explored the techniques you can use to manage electronic distractions (e.g. emails, instant messages, calls, etc.) and distracting individuals (e.g. unwanted visitors).

In today’s blog post, I’m going to share with you some expert methods of creating the perfect working environment even if your actual working conditions are less than ideal.

Fashioning the Perfect Workplace

You don’t have to break down walls and throw away furniture to create an ideal place to think, plan and work. Remember: distractions have an impact on your mind while you’re working so it’s your mind we have to defend from frequent interruptions.

Here are some golden nuggets you can use to fashion the perfect workplace wherever you may be:

  1. Manage Frequent Interruptions – If something or someone is interrupting you too frequently, deal with the source of interruptions directly. If the problem is a person, you have to gently tell the person of your problem.

99% of the time, frequent interrupters don’t realise that they are causing problems for other people. Talkative and extroverted individuals like to socialise and they don’t mind be disturbed because that’s how their mind works. However, what works for them might not be working for you, so you have to speak up.

  1. Control the Noise – A person can learn to ignore low-level noises to the point that they are not distracting anymore.

However, if a particular noise annoys you and your mind is frequently roused from its focused state, you have to do something to prevent the recurring noise from distracting you again. Here are some ways that you can do that:

  1. Earplugs and Headphones – Earplugs are widely available and can reduce noise levels to almost zero if worn properly.

The same goes for headphones that have a built-in noise-cancelling feature. You can also try ear protection use in firing ranges to block noise from your immediate surroundings.

  1. White Noise – This type of continuous, non-distracting sound can help cancel out the distracting impact of other sound sources in immediate environment.

You can find sound clips or music files of white noise on the Internet. Download one or two files and play them in a loop so your ears won’t have to deal with the more distracting noise in the background.

iii. Relocate – Sometimes, white noise and headphones aren’t enough to block distracting noises. When you’ve reach a point where you’re already desperate for some peace and quiet, you definitely have to relocate.

  1. Don’t Overdo Breaks – You need regular breaks to keep your mind fresh and willing to work. However, if you take too many breaks while working on something, you may end up spending more time relaxing than actually working (I know this happens to me!) To increase the actual time you spend working, be sure to schedule your breaks after accomplishing milestones.

This technique may sound complicated at first but it’s actually quite easy to carry out. Set a few milestones when you sit down to work and after you’ve checked off a milestone, take a break.

It’s important that you follow the work route you created with the milestones so you wills stay on track and finish the task as scheduled.

You can take increasingly longer breaks when you’ve finished more than 70% of the task you have to work on for the day.

You can also choose to stick to shorter breaks and enjoy a really long break after you’ve completed the task. Either way, your stress level will be under control because you will always have enough time for relaxation.

  1. Modify Your Schedule – This is considered a serious shift in your time management efforts because this step will necessitate changing your actual schedule so you will be able to avoid distractions at certain points in the day.

If you can work when everyone is still asleep or right after people will no longer be likely to interrupt you, that would be a crucial step in establishing a more productive work schedule.

  1. Don’t Be Too Negative – No matter how hard we try, distractions will come and go. It’s important that you don’t let small distractions ruin what you set out to do in the first place.

If someone comes by to chat, use the time to recalibrate your mind and review what you should be completing. The break may not be in your schedule but by turning the distraction into something more positive, you won’t be stressed because you were interrupted.