Is your work environment keeping you from working?

Here is a short excerpt from an article by Harold Taylor.  Harold Taylor is a time management and productivity expert.

Change your environment in some way to offset your natural inclination to avoid doing things you don’t like.

You can minimize distractions:

  • turn off your cell phone,
  • disengage voicemail,
  • turn off email alerts and
  • close your office door at specific times while you work on your priority projects.

image by Jason-Salmon

You can minimize visual distractions:

  • remove all clutter and other potential distractions from your immediate work area
  • including any in-baskets, they give you an excuse to chat with the person dropping off paper
  • don’t have family photos or memorabilia in your line of sight
  • face a blank wall, not a window or open doorway.

You can set-up a work schedule:

  • Work on projects for 60 or 90 minutes at a time – maximum.
  • Then change to another type of work for 15 minutes
  • Work on a project for 60-90 minutes
  • Then take a 30 minute break, doing something completely different from your previous work
  • Work for 60 more minutes on a project

If you find that’s too long to postpone urges to interrupt yourself, shorten the work sessions. You can always increase them gradually later. Between sessions, you can check email, return phone calls and grab a coffee. Work in short sprints rather than attempt marathons. Research shows that it takes a lot of energy to practice willpower.

Resist the temptation to interrupt yourself

Do what you can to develop a work environment that makes it easier to resist the temptation of interrupting yourself or others, checking email constantly, grabbing for your smartphone whenever there’s a call or being distracted by other things.

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Julie Stobbe, professional organizerJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, virtually using Zoom. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of teaching to reduce clutter, in your home, office, mind and time. She guides and supports you to be accountable for your time, to complete projects and reach your goals. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Online courses are available to help instruct, coach and support your organizing projects. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

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  1. Janet Barclay on March 9, 2020 at 10:41 am

    I don’t think I’d enjoy staring at a blank wall while I work.

    • Julie Stobbe on March 17, 2020 at 7:27 pm

      My desk looks into a blank wall. It is perfect for some kinds of work. For other kinds of work I go to another room that has windows and natural light. I never thought about it from the idea a blank wall is not good for me for certain tasks. Thanks Janet

  2. Janet Schiesl on March 9, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    I often get distracted, so I clear my desk of everything except what I am working on. The most important thing I do is to close all tabs on my computer except for the one I need. That is my downfall. I jump around to check email or social media, etc. It’s such a time suck but I still find myself doing it.

    • Julie Stobbe on March 17, 2020 at 7:23 pm

      Clearing my desk off is a key for me to be not distracted too.

  3. Linda Samuels on March 9, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    Distractions are an interesting thing. I don’t get distracted easily and enjoy having photos, small toys, and other objects of interest in my work area. I am pretty good at tunnel focusing. But when I do look up, I like to see “fun” things or the beautiful smiles of my family looking back at me. I recognize that this is an individual preference and “less” being out works better for many people.

    LOVE Harold Taylor- his common sense and depth of wisdom!

    • Julie Stobbe on March 17, 2020 at 7:17 pm

      I completely agree with you. I have things in my office that make me smile when I walk in. When I work I don’t see them. My distractions come from what is on my desk. Sometimes I think, “It will only take a minute and then my desk will be clear.” It always takes more than a minute to clear my desk. I had to learn to leave little things and deal with the big projects.

  4. Nancy Haworth on March 10, 2020 at 8:26 am

    Thanks for these wondeful tips! Minimizing distractions (such as turning off email alerts) and resisting the temptation to interrupt yourself can definitely help you stay on track. As for visual distractions, there’s certainly a lot that can be removed, but I think there are some things that can be motivating to some people, such as a family photo, a vision board, or a positive quote.

    • Julie Stobbe on March 17, 2020 at 7:12 pm

      It is a very personal thing what things are a distraction and what things help people to be creative.

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