December 12, 2016
This infographic was designed by Alan Young and published by Sean, with plenty of distractions in-between! Read Sean’s blog post below for more detailed information on how distractions can be extremely positive and help you to complete your workload successfully. Then once you have done that, go reward yourself with a big piece of cake and check out Facebook for five minutes! Go on, you deserve it! Copy and paste the code above into your post page if you would like to share our infographic, we would really appreciate the support! Thank you!
Distractions, disturbances, interferences and interruptions; they’re all one and the same. They get in our way when we’re trying to work and our attention is averted from the task we’re trying to focus on. Distractions block or diminish our concentration; leading to unfinished work, angry bosses and sometimes feelings of despair and self-loathing. These disturbances arise from internal and external factors, meaning we deal with distractions deriving from within our minds and ones emerging from our surroundings. That’s a lot to deal with, for anyone!
As technology and communication progresses, so do the amount of distractions we can potentially succumb to. Mobile phones, apps, social media – they all play their part. Thankfully, improved access to information also means we now know more about what causes these pesky moments and the best methods to overcome them.
Our internal distractions stem from things like daydreaming, feeling hungry, ill, tired or worried while the external issues tend to be social interactions, visual triggers, mobile phone usage and noise. A lot of the time, we can’t satisfy or appease all of our internal distractions nor create a perfect work environment free of humans, imagery, phones or sound. So what can you do to avoid these temptations? Give in to them. No, honestly…give in to them!
Employers urge their staff to avoid distractions at all costs; in the hope of heightening productivity. This ‘hierarchical advice’ seems to be the most commonly shared and regurgitated by others. They wrongly award tips like ‘turn off your phone’ or ‘listen to no music or only classical’, generating the belief in us that this should be taken as gospel. This simply isn’t true and can often lead to more detrimental and prolonged distractions.
Thinking about texting your other half back or calling a friend to arrange plans? Do it. Trying to fight the distraction takes up more of your focus. Can’t concentrate in deafening silence and Classic FM reminds you of being stuck in your Gran’s car on a Saturday afternoon? Then listen to music you do like. At the time of writing this we’re listening to 140bpm drum and bass. Whatever works best for you, do this!
Despite most of the standard advice being nonsense, some of the general tips out there are definitely worth putting into practice. The right food can boost your focus and energy. Green tea, blueberries, flax seeds, nuts and dark chocolate our easily accessible and will keep you going. Also while you’re at your desk, you need to be comfortable. Arrange your seat accordingly and rest your feet on the floor.
Yesterday’s meal deal packaging still at your desk? Come on, unless you’re a student this is inexcusable. If you are a student, it’s still pretty gross. Clean your desk and create an organised workplace for maximum efficiency. Tasks still taking longer than expected to complete? Test yourself and see how much work you can do in an hour. Keep track of the results; you might just optimise your work rate.
Sometimes, guidance for wellbeing and an understanding of your body and mind are required in order to achieve your desired results. Humans need to remain positive when completing tasks in order to approach their work in a positive manor; negative feelings only evoke negative results. You can enhance your mood by working in the surroundings you feel most at ease and productive inside, when possible.
Additionally, try not to multi-task as this creates confusion, stress and weakens your focus. Instead, try to prioritise your workload, determine which tasks are the most important and complete them as opposed to working through the easier tasks first. Prioritising ensures you won’t be wasting your energy on the easier or less important jobs for the day.
A simple mantra, ‘be here now’, can have a positive impact on your focus. Feel yourself becoming distracted externally or internally? Rehearse the short mantra ‘be here now’ in your mind or out loud repeatedly. Focus on you and the present, the results may surprise you.
What if we combined our new wellbeing tips with some of the aforementioned ‘hierarchical advice?’ We get enlightened distractions. This concept sets out to inform people of the beneficial factors of distractions and how they can indeed improve your work and mood. Gazing out of the window, for example, is often misunderstood as daydreaming. Gazing out of the window for a little while can help your brain come up with new ideas and information, important to remember for any creative folks reading this.
Similarly, socialising is seen as disruptive but if you’ve worked solidly for a few hours, it’s only human to want to do so. We’re social beings. By messaging a friend on Facebook for a few minutes or chatting to a co-worker about their weekend you’re giving yourself a much-needed break while connecting with your fellow humans. You’ll return to work feeling more productive and positive than you would if you tried to ignore the distraction. Pay attention to your distractions, being conscious of them will help you figure out if they’re worthwhile. When you find yourself doing something not relatable to the task in hand, ask yourself “is this worth my time?”.
Boredom however, is inevitable. It can distract us from our work so extensively that we give up and leave the task for another time. Do a task for too long, even something you enjoy, and you’ll tire of it eventually. Boredom, according to writer Graham Linehan in a 2012 Guardian interview, is an important part of the creative process though. Linehan describes boredom as a feeling of ‘being stuck’, a requirement because without the feeling of being stuck our minds are presumably preoccupied with other things. Once you are in a bored state, do not allow it to scare you off your work. Instead, opt for understanding that this moment brings you a blank canvas in which you can now theoretically begin to paint your ideas. Without boredom and with preoccupation, this isn’t possible.
Worked hard all day but still not finished what you set out to do? Stuck on deciding whether or not to stay at your desk and plod along or run for the first bus home? If you haven’t done much in the past two hours, you’re not going to in the next two. Go home, relax and recharge. You’ll return to work tomorrow, fresh and prepared with your new knowledge and mind set.