Workplace distractions aren’t a new problem, though the invention of the Internet has likely costs employers billions in lost productivity. Here, Douglas Battista shares a few pieces of wisdom on ways to stay focused while on the clock.
Q: Is there any specific group of employee more likely to fall by the wayside during working hours?
Douglas Battista: Studies have found that those who’ve grown up witnessing the boom of the Internet might have the shortest attention spans. That’s easy to understand since Gen Y’ers have more distractions than their parents. Things like text messaging, cell phones, instant messaging, and emails weren’t a major problem as recent as 20 years ago.
Q: Is it better to plan ahead for distractions or just ignore them?
Douglas Battista: Most people aren’t going to “just ignore” distractions. A good way to circumvent issues is to think ahead. Let family and friends know you’re unreachable (except for emergencies) during certain hours. Make a list of tasks to be completed. Having it in black and white is often enough to keep a person focused.
Q: Is it true that what I eat affects my attention span?
Douglas Battista: Absolutely! Many major companies don’t have onsite dining just to make life easier for their employees. Studies prove that eating a healthy breakfast can increase your attention span throughout the day. If you’re distracted by hunger, you’re not giving your employer 100%.
Q: Should I work offline?
Douglas Battista: If you can, yes! Over half of all workplace disruptions come from the Internet. If you can pull the plug for a bit to focus on “brick and mortar” issues, you’ll very likely get those tasks done in less time and may even be more effective.
Q: What about coffee? Should I rely on caffeine?
Douglas Battista: Too much coffee or soda can make you jittery, but for an hour long (or so) burst of energy, it’s fine. You can also try chewing gum!