One of the most important skills you can have working in the specialty chemicals or animal science industries is the ability to avoid distractions. Whether you’re working in an office, a lab, or at home, staying on task is the key to being productive. Here’s how to combat distraction at work.

Study Your Habits and Behaviors

The first step is to understand your triggers. Think about how you’re feeling when you’re in the middle of a task and stop to check your email or phone notifications. Were you bored? Frustrated? Tired? If you understand the emotions that drive you to distract yourself from your work, you can gain more control over your habits and behaviors. Keep a record of when you get distracted and what your state of mind was at the time. Try to find patterns. Eventually, you’ll identify the root cause of your distraction.

Silence Your Technology

Every time your phone, tablet, or computer sends you a notification, you’re going to get distracted. Sure, you can try to ignore it, but chances are you will get distracted regardless. You will want to know what you missed, and the thought will take you away from your task. Your best bet is to silence your technology. You can keep helpful notifications, like alarms and reminders, some of which help with goals and productivity, but mute the notifications that don’t relate to your work.

Plan and Prioritize

The way you organize your day can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining focus. For each day, schedule the tasks you absolutely need to accomplish that day. Plan difficult tasks that require a lot of concentration for times when you know you have more focus and energy. It is also a good idea to schedule in time to meditate and dedicate time slots to check email and other similar tasks. If you have a designated time for those tasks, you’ll be less likely to use these minor tasks as a way to distract yourself from more important tasks.

Technology has made humans more susceptible to distractions. Attention spans aren’t what they were a decade ago. The people who can combat distractions will have a competitive advantage over those who can’t. They will have better focus, drive, and productivity. Understanding the internal triggers that motivate you to distract yourself, silencing the technology around you, and strategically planning your day will all help you avoid distractions and stay more focused on the important work you have to do.

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