You know what it is like when you really need to finish something immediately. You want to focus entirely at the task, but just then a colleague pops his head through the door and asks you to “check something”, or the phone rings and it just so happens that someone very talkative is on the line.
Some other time you are writing a complicated or delicate text in Word and the software keeps suggesting other wording than what you have used and if you are out of luck, you get repeated suggestions from a perky puppy trying to help you.
You get distracted and even frustrated and annoyed, which is the last thing you need in order to finish the task.
It is in situations such as these you need to shut the world out, have some privacy, and make yourself unreachable so that you will be able to concentrate undisturbed.
If you do so, the urgent task gets completed faster and the stress is reduced.
Here are eleven ways which will allow you to work undisturbed:
- Put on tight-fitting headphones and listen to red noise when you are working. Red noise is a synthetically generated noise which sounds deceptively similar to a waterfall. At Noisli.com you can listen to any kind of noise you would like. Choose “brown noise” and “waves”, and you will experience the feeling of briskly being transferred to a beach with large, lapping waves (but without the seagulls).
- Listen to your favourite music (also in tight-fitting headphones).
- Write in the word processor OmmWriter instead of Word. In both programs you write without distractions. You have an empty screen and on it you write text – no tool-bars, no buttons, no menus, no red spell-correction markings, no auto-corrections which guess the wrong words, no remarks that your language is bureaucratic and rigid, no faulty formatting – only you and the words. Pages (Mac) has similar features.
- Close and lock the door to your office. “But I can’t — I have to be available for my co-workers!”, you might say. Yes, sure you can. You might as well have been ill and then you would not have been at the office anyway.
- Turn off all telephones, cellular as well as landlines.
- Book the conference room to have a meeting with yourself. Perhaps you have small, quiet rooms which are available for you to reserve at your office?
- Leave the office and sit at a coffee-shop or café to work instead.
- Close down the email app and determine at what time you will open it again (and thereby go through your emails and empty the inbox).
- Take the opportunity when you are on the train. Do those tasks for which you need to be undisturbed during a pleasant train ride.
- Take a break from social media. Close your Twitter-client, the online chat-app and Facebook.
- If you are a group, check yourselves into a conference centre for a day or two. Turn off your cell-phones, empty the email inbox only at the end of the day and warn your colleagues that you will be unavailable. Possible fires will have to be put out by someone else. It is after all just a matter of one or a couple of days.
This is what you will get for the trouble
The effect of this will be that you can successfully focus when you really need to. If you are like me, the satisfaction of getting to work undisturbed is immense (“I am in control of my own planning!”). A day marked by frustration will now become a day filled with pleasant concentration.
How do you do it?
What is your way of assuring that you are left alone?
By the way, if you want more tips on how to create good structure at work — here are many ways to get just that.