Kate Denne Administration Services Northampton

How do you manage to stay engaged and proac.. SQUIRREL!

It’s no secret that the advent of the internet, increased connectivity and social media has means that it’s easier to do business at any time of day, but have you looked at your device from the opposite perspective – that it’s a distraction rather than a productive tool?

Did you know, the iPhone has been around for 10 years now…  can you believe it? And oh, how things have changed in that time.

We’re more connected than we’ve ever been in our lives. An estimated 2.32bn people worldwide use a Smartphone (statista.com) – and that’s an increase of 61% on just 2014!

How many times have you been trying to get a piece of work done and ‘ping’, there it is… a noise from your phone. Whether it’s a message, e-mail or social media notification, your phone is shouting at you ‘pick me up, it’s important!’. And, you do. You stop what you’re doing and you engage with your phone. You read the message, e-mail or update and reply. You go back to your work to pick up where you’ve left off but you’ve lost your momentum and then, before too long, ‘ping’. There it is again, a reply to your message. You stop your work… Can you see the cycle here? Even if you choose not to pick your phone up to check it, the distraction has already occurred by the noise or vibration. You’ll continue to work, but you know your phone wants your attention. It’ll play on your mind and make you less productive.

What is it that makes your phone have this hold over you? We are working in an age where it’s difficult to switch off. Everything is seen as important. In the workplace, people feel under pressure to reply to e-mails at whatever time of day. Now, this can be seen as a double-edged sword.

Consider this: If you received an e-mail in the evening (and for small businesses this is quite likely) would you think that answering it straight away makes you look professional and approachable, or someone who’s easily distracted by ‘having’ to answer it straight away. How do you feel if you see an e-mail that has been responded to at 10.30pm? How you perceive that person? It’s the evening, you’re probably enjoying some family time. However if you respond to an e-mail as soon as you’ve received it, the sender is likely to still be online and you’ll end up in a conversation. Goodbye family time… But, on the other hand, I have heard people say ‘I sent xxx an e-mail this morning and I haven’t heard anything back’ yet, it’s only lunchtime…. There’s an expectation that you should always be available to respond.

I do think though, that people are becoming more aware of this. You have to ask yourself ‘can it wait?’. If that e-mail can wait until the morning and be responded to during office hours then leave it.

So, how do you deal with distractions?

If you’ve got an iPhone there are many tools that you can use to help increase your productivity and reduce distractions. I’m sure there are features on Android platforms too, but as an iPhone user myself, this is all I can speak of.

Do you use the Do Not Disturb feature? It does exactly what it says. It disables all audible and vibration notifications to your phone. Calls, e-mails and messages can still come in and will be visible when you wake the screen but you won’t be alerted to them. Also, a great feature as part of this is that you can set specific phone numbers to your favourites. Only those contacts in your favourites will be allowed through even if Do not Disturb is activated. So, if you’re working on a project, and don’t want to be distracted, just pop the feature on and focus on the task in hand.

If you’re working at a laptop, turn your e-mails off! Again, if you need to focus on what you’re doing and you see an e-mail pop in on your screen it can affect your thought process. It’s common now for people to operate an ‘e-mail window’ whereby they only access their e-mails at certain points in the day. Whilst this isn’t suitable for everyone depending the nature of your business, it may be a good tactic to try. You can set an auto response so that you can manage the expectation of the sender by stating times that you will be responding.

I’ve recently found a really interesting App called Moments. It tracks your screen time and provides you with a daily insight report of how many hours/minutes you used your phone the previous day as well as how many times you picked it up. You may think that you don’t look at your phone that often but it’s really interesting. I appreciate that you may use your phone for work and therefore usage can be higher than you’d like but I’d definitely suggest installing it to give you some information – you may be surprised. It’s definitely made me more aware of how much I pick up my phone.

A matter of scale…

We’ve looked at how you can become distracted but what if it’s not just you that you need to consider? You’re a business owner with a workforce of 3, 5, 10 people. Many workplaces offer a relaxed approach to mobile phones in the office but are your employees suffering from the same distractions that you are? Imagine if everyone receives notifications throughout the day. That this takes them away from the reason they’re at work, how productive is this for you as a business? Just have a look round the office – is anyone looking at their phone, perhaps checking their Facebook or Instagram feed? Is it work-related? It’s all about balance and allowing for staff to feel valued and that you’re a flexible employer but ultimately if you’re employing people to do a job, that should be their primary focus, not sending a Snapchat to their friends.

Is it worth the fuss or is it just part of life?

Smartphones are here to stay and the chances are our connectivity and digital footprint will continue to increase so it’s important to accept that, but there are things you can do to not let it take over your life.

I’ve adopted a distraction free approach to my work and I can honestly say that I feel more relaxed. I manage response expectations of clients as well as turning off any notifications for when I need to focus on a task. It’s like it’s taken away a pressure that I didn’t know was hanging over me.

Why not give it a go for a week? Try and see what works for you and if you notice an increase in your productivity. Perhaps let me know and if you’ve got any tips to share, it would be great to hear from you.

However, if you find that there are just too many distractions, let me help you. I can offer a wide-range of administrative services to assist your business. Just get in touch, email kate@kdva.co.uk or call 07940 520841.

Kate Denne Administration Services Northampton

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