It's already 1 p.m., and despite spending half your day in the office, you have yet to cross off any of the items on your to-do list.
Whether you work in a home office, shared office or more traditional space, chances are your work environment is filled with distractions that threaten to torpedo your productivity. While five minutes here and 15 minutes there may not seem like a lot, this time quickly adds up and, in some cases, takes a financial toll on your business.
According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, one in four people admit to spending at least one hour per workday on personal calls, emails or texts. And more than 20 percent said they spend an hour or more on the Internet searching for non-work-related information. As part of the survey, respondents were asked to list their primary workplace distractions. The top culprits:
1) Cell phone/texting - 50%
2) Gossip - 42%
3) The Internet - 39%
4) Social media - 38%
5) Snack breaks or smoke breaks - 27%
6) Noisy co-workers - 24%
7) Meetings - 23%
8) Email - 23%
9) Co-workers dropping by - 23%
10) Co-workers putting calls on speakerphone - 10%
With so much going on around you, it's no wonder you have a hard time getting things accomplished. Here are 5 tips to help you stay focused and on-task in the office:
Unplug - Working on a tight deadline? Turn off your phone, set up an out-of-office reply, and turn your web browser to offline mode. (It's under the "File" menu.) If you absolutely have to look something up, go directly to a search engine or site you've already bookmarked, locate the information you need, and log back off.
Prioritize - Not every call or email requires an immediate response. If you're in the middle of something that's more important, finish what you're working on and then return the message.
Break it up - Designate certain times of the day to take a mental break and check personal emails, texts and social media accounts.
Block it out - Look for a quiet workspace where you can escape from noisy neighbors and other distractions like TVs and radios. If you don't have a private office of your own, try an empty conference room or lounge.
Learn how to say "I'm busy" - Be prepared to tell co-workers (or anyone else who drops by unexpectedly) that you simply don't have time to talk. To avoid coming off as rude or dismissive, explain what you're working on and suggest another time to catch up. Most of the people who interrupt you have experienced interruptions of their own and will appreciate your candor. It will also make for a better conversation later when your mind isn't preoccupied with something else.
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Frank Chalupa is president and co-founder of Amata Office Centers, Chicago's largest privately owned office suites provider. Founded in 2002, Amata offers an array of full- and part-time office solutions to businesses of all sizes. For more information, visit www.amataoffices.com, or connect with Amata on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.