In his recent blog Back to the office with a new secret weapon, Michael Smart talks about how working from home taught us to block out distractions.
“You re-learned math and taught it to your children and also managed to keep up with work. You made it through Zoom meetings in a tiny apartment with three roommates also on Zoom meetings. (All the years you’ve known your roommate, you had no idea he was a “Let’s circle back to this” guy!) And you did this by learning to mentally silence both digital and physical distractions and focus on what needs to get done,” Smart wrote.
Three tips to block out distractions
Blocking out distractions is indeed a critical skill, especially when working from home. It’s a skill all of us at C3PR had to master. C3PR is what used to be called a “virtual agency” – meaning we have no brick-and-mortar office. All of us work from home and have done so since the agency was founded 39 years ago – long before the rest of the world discovered the benefits of a remote workforce.
It isn’t easy to stay focused and be productive when there are constant interruptions. But when your livelihood and reputation depend on meeting deadlines and keeping clients happy, you learn. Here are three tips I find valuable:
- Plan your day and update your to-do list the night before. The next morning, pick three tasks you can accomplish by 10 a.m. Let your team know you’ll be offline and not checking email for a few hours. If there’s something that absolutely can’t wait, assure your team they can text you and you’ll answer. Now, instead of scrolling through your news feed, browsing social media, etc., tackle those three tasks.
- Throughout your day, resist the temptation to check your phone every time it beeps. Turn off notifications to stop your phone from pulling you off track. Train yourself to check for messages every 30 minutes – or longer if possible. Use this uninterrupted time to work the plan you made the previous night.
- Schedule an hour every day to strengthen yourself physically and mentally. For me, that’s going for a run first thing in the morning. I come up with some of my most creative ideas and solutions running in the Baylands. If I miss my morning run because sleeping in is more important, I schedule two 30-minute sessions later in the day to do something that doesn’t involve the phone or computer. Some days my digital detox is reading hard copies of business books, trade magazines or a few chapters of a good novel. Other days I opt for a little garden therapy. And of course, dog walking always puts life in perspective. That’s one of many reasons all of us at C3PR have dogs. Check out our Pup Squad.
How do you block out distractions and tame your digital monsters? We’d love to add your tips to the list.