Do you feel like you can’t get anything done despite good intentions? Perhaps the company you keep is to blame. Some people don’t realize they’re being productivity killers, while others might prevent you from getting work done in obvious ways.
Let’s take a look at some practical ways to stay productive without becoming a hermit.
Shield Your Ears From Loud Sounds
If you work in a confined or crowded office, the sound of someone’s phone conversation or shrill laughter could cause your attention to wander. If a person is a repeat offender or behaving in a way that is not appropriate for work, you could politely ask them to be as quiet as possible. This is an especially worthwhile approach if other coworkers have complained.
However, you may need to take more personalized action by wearing a pair of earbuds. Even if you don’t listen to music through them, some brands block sounds quite well, and this solution may be easier than earplugs.
Set Expectations and Limits
Being sociable can make life much more pleasant. However, even the dearest friends can become unintentional productivity killers if they aren’t aware of everything you have to get done beyond spending time with them. Be smart and set expectations in advance of social gatherings. For example, you could say, “I’d love to get coffee with you tomorrow, but need to make sure I don’t stay longer than an hour so I can work on a presentation that’s due the next day.”
Sometimes, even when you let people know how much time you can give, they’ll still try to force compromises. Between bosses that call at odd hours and relatives that refuse to listen when you discuss having to take care of other things on your agenda, these individuals may need a firm “no” — you might even need to blatantly ignore them in order to get tasks done.
Steer Clear of Online Distractions
Whether you are a YouTube devotee or Facebook fan, the Internet is full of people and websites that can quickly waste your time. If you often get lighthearted, purely fun e-mails that senders than expect you to read during work hours, create a separate folder you can move them into without reading. Later, when responsibilities are done, you’ll have all those e-mails in one place to peruse.
Maybe it feels impossible to stop wasting time online by not going to certain sites. When sheer willpower is not sufficient, you could consider using browser plug-ins that don’t allow those destinations to be accessed during work hours. Remember that most of the content available online isn’t going to disappear simply if you don’t view it immediately.
If you set aside a little of your free time to catch up with all your friends on social media and see the latest videos from YouTube stars, you might even start anticipating those dedicated minutes more than you would have if you were browsing the content while also trying to get work done.
Don’t Give In to High-Maintenance, High-Stress Friends
Some people in your life may be under extreme amounts of stress and have trouble coping with it. If those individuals trust you enough to confide in, you might hear about all their troubles day and night. Even when those individuals in your life aren’t purposefully being productivity killers, they may forget they’re cutting into time you’d normally use to sleep, enjoy meals and tackle to-do lists.
High-maintenance friends should be handled carefully so that the relationship won’t be unnecessarily strained. When dealing with them, try some of the techniques above related to setting expectations.
You’ll also need to decide how pressing the person’s needs are and determine whether they require immediate attention. If a friend has just been dumped by her boyfriend of five years and is extremely distraught, you may need to shift your own schedule to do damage control. What about if the friend is stressing out because she procrastinated on a project despite your warnings to start working on it well in advance? In that instance, you might choose to be sympathetic, but let the friend know you can’t bear that burden at the moment because you have your own obligations.
Given the common scenarios above, it’s probably clear other people can negatively impact the number of tasks you can get done. Luckily, you now have strategies to effectively keep those people in check without severing your connections to them.