How often do you find yourself aimlessly scrolling, texting, or internet surfing when you’re supposed to be on the clock? Don’t deny it – we’ve all been there. Checking your devices here and there throughout the workday is one thing, but spending more of your time consumed by digital distractions can cause your productivity to go down the drain (and an angry boss on your tail, too).
There’s no doubt that technology has proven to be incredibly useful in many industries, providing a continuous link to information and activity. However, with this constant connectivity comes a lot of commotion. The key to minimizing digital distractions is to strike a balance between leveraging the benefits and doing away with unnecessary scrolling and surfing.
We’re all aware that too much screen time doesn’t do us any good, especially when there’s work to be done. So, how can we prevent it from hindering our standing in the workplace?
1. Silence Your Cell Phone
Cell phones are often the biggest digital distraction no matter where you are. When you make an effort to put it on silent and store it away for a while, you’re basically telling your brain, “Alright, it’s game time. Let’s get to work.” At the office, think about keeping your device inside your bag or desk for the day. As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind.
Many cell phones have the option to put your device on Do Not Disturb. Think of it as putting your phone to sleep. This feature stops notifications and alerts from making any noise or lighting up your phone screen when it’s locked. If you’re worried about missing calls, emails, or other important messages, you can adjust the feature to restrict only certain applications of your choice. A quick Google search or asking Gen Z’er will navigate your device to do so.
Take a deep dive into your thought process to understand the thoughts and emotions that trigger what drives you to pick up any digital device. For instance, if you catch yourself wanting to turn on your favorite comfort show or gaming app in the middle of the workday, it may suggest that you’re using this distraction to avoid stress. In fact, even more frustration will likely take over as your losing streak on Candy Crush keeps multiplying.
Rather than turning to digital entertainment for stress relief, there are ways to address work-related stress. When you start to feel an emotional overload coming on, remove yourself from your workspace for a moment. Try taking a walk, pour yourself a glass of water, or step out of the office on your lunch break.
3. Take A Digital Detox
We know, you’re probably wondering – how will I ever part with my smartphone/tablet?! Well, welcome back to the early 2000s. A more effective strategy to minimize digital distractions is limiting your usage both in and outside of the workplace. If you start digitally disciplining yourself outside of the office, it may be simpler to steer away from your devices while sitting at your desk, even amid boredom.
Try setting specific time constraints for when you can use your devices. Remember, social media can always wait. You can admit it – half the time you spend scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, you’re likely to find yourself frustrated with the nonsense that some users post. Instead of spending hours engrossed in internet stalking or aimlessly scrolling through content you don’t even resonate with, restrict yourself to a certain amount of time. This approach eases you into forming a habit of improving your focus and productivity.
4. Make Use of To-Do List
Even though your smartphone or tablet is capable of keeping track of all your tasks and important dates, creating a to-do list by hand is a great way to help you stay on track and avoid relying on a device. A checklist provides you with a roadmap for your day. As you work through time-filling tasks, you’re less likely to feel the urge to check your phone or mindlessly browse the internet. Your to-do list is a constant reminder of your daily work goals, steering you away from the virtual world and leading you toward task completion.
A checklist also allows you to break down larger projects into smaller and more manageable ones. Not only will your workload seem less daunting, but it can also better the outcome as you direct your focus on one aspect at a time. This type of structure reduces brain clutter which sometimes leads to seeking a digital escape.
5. Face-to-Face Communication
Encourage in-person conversations rather than relying on digital communication. Not only does it stop you from relying on a device even more, but it also avoids miscommunication and nurtures a more personal connection among team members. Face-to-face interactions create a dynamic space where ideas can be exchanged in real-time, allowing for better collaboration and understanding of one another.
This type of communication is another great escape from digital noise that also helps with organization. It alleviates the burden of having to sift through dozens of messages to find the one thing you’re looking for. In the case that digital communication is necessary, consider printing out important materials or documents so you can avoid getting lost in the abundance of messages when looking for important material.
It’s no secret that the digital world can often get messy, especially when it tampers with our productivity. With that in mind, not all digital distractions are bad ones. When it comes to your work ethic, consider these digital options that can strengthen your productivity:
Productivity apps that can be downloaded to smartphones or tablets are a great way to streamline tasks and manage your time effectively. They often come with features such as to-do lists, reminders, and calendars to help you stay organized and on top of your workload.
If you happen to be out of the office, productivity apps are also good for document or information sharing on the fly. This type of storage makes it easy to transfer necessary materials. Click here to see The Best Productivity Apps in 2023.
Enjoy Light Music
Soothing melodies and gentle rhythms of light music can create a calm environment that encourages concentration. Having the right background music as you work can be a subtle motivator that elevates your mood and boosts office morale. It is just enough to stimulate the brain and thought process without causing a cognitive overload.
Light music also drowns out noise and interruptions. Listening to songs without lyrics may be your best bet. Say you’re working on a spreadsheet, running numbers, or typing something up; your brain may be more fixated on the lyrics and lead to an error in your work. Find a balance between heavy, complex genres and songs that may as well just put you to sleep. You can find great tunes on your favorite music streaming service:
Throwing on a podcast can make the workday more interesting and enjoyable. Podcasts range from offering a wealth of information on various topics to providing comedic relief during moments of chaos. Listening to a podcast can also be a great mental break during the day that prevents burnout. Consider playing one during your lunch break instead of reverting to social media use or gaming. Check out 9 Great Podcasts to Get You Through the Workday.
Reducing digital distractions at work is more than just a matter of enhancing personal focus and productivity; it’s a strategic approach to fostering a stronger and more collaborative work environment.
This ongoing process to minimize distractions requires mindfulness and strategic planning. Even though you may think your entire life exists at your fingertips, it’s necessary to give it a rest. Trying out these proactive steps to help minimize digital distractions will leave you feeling focused, accomplished, and still employed.