Focused MonsterMonster Challenge:

Staying focused on “real work,” performance, and productivity goals when challenged by a significant number of distractions; some caused issues outside of the workplace. As the divide between personal and professional lives is diminished by work schedules and technologies making connection so much easier, it’s becoming more and more of an issue of how to balance our time and priorities.

“I can’t stay focused!” – Monster Taming Tips:

If you’re having a problem being focused at work, you’re not alone.  Studies conducted by organizations such as The Hartford and Ricoh Americas Corp confirm that workers  agree their work is easier as a result of access to the Internet, social devices, and emails, but at the same time acknowledge it’s a double-edged sword, creating a challenge for staying focused and productive at work.

Here are a few tips for controlling the “distraction monster” in order to feel more satisfied, engaged with your colleagues and focused on your work.

1. Open Office Space – although the concept of teams working together is an admirable one (and makes a lot of sense in some situations), it’s not the total answer for getting good, solid work done.  The layout of “group” workspace brings with it strong possibilities for distractions.

Try to:

  • Work wearing headphones – block out the conversations and noise of workers around you
  • Find a “quiet” place or schedule a small conference room for tasks that you need to accomplish that require your complete concentration
  • Remember that you too are more than likely creating a distraction for others; monitor yourself

2. Expectations that emails are responded to immediately – work for hours with your email feature turned off.  Instead of allowing the distraction of immediate notifications, schedule a few times a day to check emails and prioritize needs. If it makes you feel better, compose an away message that lets the sender know your practice for checking emails. Several studies indicate workers are distracted by the interruption of constant emails over 2 hours per day!

3. Social Media – Almost 80% of workers admit to being distracted by Facebook, texting, Instagram, and the list goes on. In reality, the percentage is probably bigger because we participate in so many social media outlets. As our personal and professional worlds melt together, employers should realize the importance of staying “connected” to children, family, and friends; and at the same time, employees must create a reasonable boundary of how much time is actually fair for checking and responding to non-work related posts. To help you better manage social media, check out the apps available to assist you.

4. Time Management – it’s always a good idea to do an audit of how you are spending your time:

  • Set expectations for yourself and share them with your co-workers; open communication will minimize a misinterpretation of your “concentration” time.
  • Keep a journal of key activities you work on and for how long.  Include time on social media, checking and responding to emails, as well as visits with co-workers and other interruptions. After a week or so, analyze the data you have collected and make appropriate adjustments.
  • Turn your phone off for short periods of time with a message that you’ll be responding periodically throughout the day.
  • Post a “Do Not Disturb” note on your cubicle or office door to politely inform team members that you’re concentrating and need to manage interruptions.   Be sure to let them know what time you will be available.
  • Plan your work for at least 25 minutes at a time – reward yourself with a 5 minute break when you are finished.   Research shows productivity will increase with 25 minutes of devoted concentrated work at a time.

We all can improve our results in the new year by managing the “distraction monster.” For more tips like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn.

What’s your “monster” challenge? Send your brief description to If your monster is selected, we’ll send you a fun coloring book to help you relieve the stress this bad guy has caused you!