When I worked in both corporate America and for other law firms, I have to admit, I would often times become distracted at some point in the day. The good news about this revelation is I never entertained distractions when I was really busy with a project or an impending deadline. It was only when work was a little slow and/or the boss was out of the office that I would peruse the gossip blogs ad nauseam and check my “chats with friends” apps to keep up with their day and entertain some laughter.
I understand that most employees need and desire a welcomed break and/or distraction from time to time, but beware of the amount of time you may be dedicating to interests outside of your job.
Though you may always finish your assignments and projects in an efficient and effective manner, no boss wants to witness a distracted employee. I can attest to this first hand.
I once worked for a law firm for a very brief stint. I was in a cubicle (which I abhorred), so every move I made, I felt like it was monitored. I often times went through withdrawal from my distractions because I was always accustomed to staying abreast of gossip as soon as it was reported on the net. Additionally, I preferred to listen to music while I worked and have an occasional chat with a friend over text if the mood struck me. Sitting in that cubicle basically deaded all of those means of distractions as my boss would unceremoniously pop his head in at my work station at any given time. As I was new on the job, I did not want to come out of the gate with these behaviors until I proved myself with my work product, but it was hard. Long story short, I did, what I perceived to be, a good job with keeping personal interests at bay until lunch hour or after work, however, even the occasional checking of my phone proved to be too much for this boss to handle.
I understand every boss and work culture is different when it comes to policy surrounding personal internet use, break times and length, and personal phone calls, even when you are getting the job done, as perception of employee productivity is subjective job to job. However, if you find yourself in a job where being easily distracted by co-worker conversation, an occasional stroll through Nordstrom.com and/or checking out HelloBeautiful.com every hour is not accepted, here are five tips to keep you on task and not tempted to give in to your distractions while at work.
1. Realistically pinpoint your distraction.
You know what your downfall is. Again, as previously mentioned, mine is gossip blogs. I just HAVE to keep up with the goings on of public figures at all times. Of course my time could be used better focused on other things, but I just NEED it at times. As I have continued to identify this as my source of preferred distraction when I am just “done” with being bothered by work, I now fight the urges more to wait until the work day is done before I entertain them.
2. Get your priorities in order.
On Sunday evenings I begin mentally compiling my week’s list of things that need to be completed. On Monday, I am ALL in. However, during the week, that same enthusiasm tends to wane. Despite any lack of enthusiasm in starting or completing a task, make sure all priorities are in order and addressed before you dip back into your What’s App chat about nothingness.
3. Finish what you started.
Are you the employee who has 100 tabs open on your computer for 10 different assignments and can never seem to finish anything completely in a day’s work? If this is the case, focus your energies on completing 1-2 tasks in its entirety before rewarding yourself with a co-worker chat in the break room or a mad dash to nail salon for a quick touch up of your manicure.
4. Appropriately schedule time for correspondence with colleagues and co-workers.
I think it goes without saying that every employee checks and responds to emails as soon as they get their work day started. But how are you handling continued correspondence throughout the day? Sometimes persistent and continuous interruption of your work flow to answer an email or phone call can seriously disrupt your flow. Perhaps, if conducive to your work environment, you can carve out a specific time where you will respond to emails and phone calls throughout the day to minimize work distractions.
5. Go ahead, take a break!
Sometimes enough is enough and you just simply have to get up and take a walk around the office to wake up or get your mojo back. If you have made a significant dent in your work day, then by all means, take a stroll, get some coffee, or catch up with a co-worker. Consider a break or distraction that does not scream to your boss that you don’t have enough work to do.
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.
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