One of the biggest challenges facing most of us is lack of focus, due to constant interruptions from so many devices, notifications and people demanding our attention. We feel as if we're multi-tasking, but we're really just switch-tasking and hurting our brains and our productivity in the process. Here are some favorite ways to prevent distractions.
Wear earbuds. They don't even have to be playing any music! Just the outward sign that you are in the zone and not available can help prevent others from interrupting you. It also can help you focus so you are less likely to be distracted.
Be clear about when you are available. If you are always working on something urgent or always tied up, people won't respect the boundaries. So be clear when you are available - establish set office hours or when you are focusing, tell those around you when you expect to be available again. If you've had the door closed, open it. If you've had earbuds in, take them out.
Disable notifications. No need for a ping or an on-screen alert every time you get an email. Turn those off so you are not distracted by them. Better yet...
Separate yourself from your tech. Put your phone in another part of the room or another part of the house for a time. If you can't fathom doing that because you use your phone as your timer or for some other practical functions, consider an alternative. Use an inexpensive timer or an internet-based one.
Anticipate the needs and solve them in advance. Before you spend focused time, ask if anyone needs anything. Communicate instructions such as, "If so-and-so calls, do this" and "If this happens, interrupt me."
Stick with it. Often when we try a new productivity tip, we get frustrated if it doesn't work perfectly in a few days, and then we abandon it. You might have to wear ear buds two weeks straight before people get the message that you are not willing to be interrupted, but the investment will be worth it.