With summer fast approaching, thoughts turn to holidays. And with the prospect of beaches and lie-ins on the horizon, it can become difficult to keep your mind on the job.
But your job becomes harder to do if your mind isn’t switched on to the task at hand. Distractions mean your to-do list takes longer to get through, and thinking about time off only makes us resent the time you spend ‘on’ at work.
Here are some tips and tricks to help make your working day more satisfying and your time off more rewarding.
- Turn your distractions into a treat
Whether it’s surfing travel websites or browsing social media, time spent online is highly seductive. An article from Time reported that US workers only manage 15 minutes on a task before they’re distracted by something else and estimated 60% of distractions came from emails and social networks. Give yourself mini distraction breaks. A coffee and some Facebook time for 15 guilt-free minutes. Taking a break from work is good for you, as long as it works with you getting your job done, not instead of it!
- Practise tough love on yourself
A recent Think! UK safe driving campaign had the strapline ‘Make the glove compartment the phone compartment’ to warn us about new legalisation that means even holding a mobile phone while in control of a vehicle can lead to six points on your licence and a £200 fine. The campaign targeted those who just cannot resist the siren call of technology. If this is you, turn off your Wi-Fi, shut your phone in a drawer, turn on your voicemail and get down to work. It will be technology cold turkey at first but you’ll soon discover the much sought after ‘flow’. Flow is otherwise known as getting into the zone, where you start working on a task and before you know it hours have passed as you become so immersed.
- Pick your stimulus
You might be someone who is inspired to work by loud music, perhaps a certain work station set up makes you feel energised or you could require complete silence to make progress. Whatever pushes your productivity buttons you should do your best to recreate. If you need to shut out noisy colleagues in open plan offices, put on noise cancelling headphones and stick a flag on your monitor that says, silently, ‘not now, I’m in the zone’.
- Understand how you work
When you are in the zone, what are your habits? Do you tend to tackle the biggest job of the day first thing, or do you prefer to work up to it by completing a series of smaller but satisfying tasks that you can score through on your to-do list? However you approach your working day, try to structure it in a way you find satisfying. And on the subject of that to-do list – only write it once a day. Lists suffer from task creep and before you know it you’re adding things to the bottom as quickly as you’re crossing things off the top.
- Set a goal
If the thought of taking a break is causing you major distraction or perhaps even dissatisfaction in your working life, then there is one simple solution: book a holiday. Even if it’s a staycation, getting a date in the diary stops you daydreaming about throwing it all in for a life running a taverna on a Greek island and gives you something concrete to make plans for. And you now have a deadline to accomplish tasks by and a way to reward yourself for putting in the hours.
Next: Motivation: the key to making and keeping great drivers
 13 Ways to Beat Distractions and Stay Focused at Work http://healthland.time.com/2012/07/23/13-ways-to-beat-distractions-and-stay-focused-at-work/