As the saying goes, we all have the same 24 hours to work with each day. How each of us uses their 24 hours and how much is accomplished can be vastly different, however. It’s amazing how much time can be wasted or mismanaged in a work environment, especially by toxic employees. The following are 5 distractions salespeople easily fall prey to and how to avoid them.
#1: Answering Emails
Many people fall into the habit of checking emails literally dozens of times each day. While we want to be responsive and timely when answering, most emails don’t need to be answered within minutes of receiving them. It’s much more efficient to set up 2 or 3 times each day when you check and respond to emails. Checking and responding to emails each time one arrives in the inbox is a major waste of time. When it’s not time to check your email, keep the program closed so you’re not tempted each time a new email comes in.
#2: Handling Follow Up Work
After almost every sales call or meeting there is follow up work to get done. There are proposals to go over, records to update, and the next steps in the process to get prepared. These tasks are necessary and must get done in a timely manner. It is easy to get distracted and waste time in the same way as when emails are answered as they come. Again, time should be set aside each day for follow up duties. Updating several records at once takes less time than doing it individually several times each day.
#3: Social Media
Most people already know that social media can be a bottomless pit if we let ourselves get distracted. It’s okay to occasionally take a break and check twitter or the latest headlines on the web. It’s important to keep screens to social media closed during work periods. Reward yourself with 5 minute breaks throughout the day to relax and enjoy what’s on social media. It’s also a good idea to keep your phone silent and only check it periodically. With texts, calendar reminders, and app notifications your phone is likely to be buzzing almost constantly throughout the day.
#4: Office Gossip
As much as most of us would like to believe we don’t get caught up in this sort of thing, it can be a major distraction if you’re not careful. Sometimes there’s a fine line between networking and sharing information, and complaining about how awful a particular client or coworker can be. While you don’t want to be totally unavailable to coworkers, there are simple steps to take when you really need to stay focused and get work done. If you’re in an office, closing the door for specific times throughout the day can send the message that unless it’s an emergency you shouldn’t be interrupted at that time. If you’re in a cubicle or other open area wearing headphones is a great way to keep from being distracted. People are less likely to interrupt someone wearing headphones.
#5: An Unorganized Work Area
Working in a messy, unorganized environment can be very distracting psychologically. A computer can be just as unorganized as a desk. If you have more than two programs or windows open at one time it’s probably too many. Jumping back and forth while attempting to juggle several tasks at once is not only distracting but provides greater opportunities for making mistakes. Here are 10 hacks to make your work area look cleaner.
Cutting back on just these 5 distractions can add up to a lot of useful time spent on relevant work activities. Trying to make all the changes at once can be overwhelming. Start working on one area a week, such as organizing your work area. The next week start sticking to a structured schedule for checking and responding to emails. Within a month or two you should be able to cut back on most distractions and discover your overall productivity has increased.