Studying to receive an MBA is a life balancing act. Whether you are taking classes online or on campus, this works requires you to balance multiple priorities to achieve your goals. Balance means minimizing distractions and maximizing productivity.
Every serious student — not just the MBA student — must deal with distractions. Minimizing distraction to achieve your goals takes constant juggling of priorities.
According to the Udemy 2018 Workplace Distraction Report, one in four workers believe they are more distracted than they were in previous years. Office spaces are full of more distractions than ever before, increasing the need to develop strategies that improve your work efficiency.
By removing these distractions, you can leave your job on time and increase your cognitive power to focus on goals such as:
- Pursuing further study — whether inside or outside of your chosen career field. Nowadays many people choose to study a new language while they are in “study-mode).
- Having more free time to relax, be with your family or play sport.
With a clear mindset, you can better focus and increase your productivity and deliver more meaningful work.
What strategies can help minimize distractions?
While avoiding distractions altogether is impossible, using one or any combination of these strategies can minimize workplace distractions, alleviating any work-related stress, and help you grow in your role.
1. Use apps to block internet access.
Several apps have been developed that remove a variety of online distractions that get in the way of you doing your best work. A compelling example of this is Freedom.
This service can help block any number of apps or websites, from almost any device. Freedom can also block the entire internet if that’s too much of a distraction for you. You can do this manually every time you need to focus or create recurring time blocks that you want to stick to over your workweek.
2. Restrict your app time and turn off any distractions.
According to the Udemy report, more than a third of millennials and Gen Z (36 percent) say they spend two hours or more checking their smartphones during the workday. Whether it’s seeing offseason NBA news on Twitter or scrolling through your Instagram feed.
The information reveals that phones are a significant source of distraction. It may sound easy, but turning off your notifications or putting your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode can be a major help.
As you can see in the screenshot below, iPhone’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode allows you to schedule particular times where you’re not to be disturbed. The mode does this by silencing notifications, as well as giving you the option to prevent phone calls during working hours.
A constant stream of emails can also be a distraction, as people spend an average of 3.1 hours a day checking our work email. Using ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode on your computer can mute these email notifications, giving you the time to focus on the task at hand.
3. Work in a less distracting environment.
Co-workers and your office environment can also have an impact on your productivity. While in an office space, it can be quite useful to invest in quality earbuds that help block out distracting conversations. A study from Cloud Cover Music showed that 80 percent of employees felt listening to music increased their productivity, with two-thirds feeling headphones, in general, had a similar effect.
If it’s possible, try to move to space in your office where the noise is constant, rather than intermittent. This way, all of the louder talking starts to blend into one noise that’s harder to hear than a few scattered conversations in an otherwise quiet space.
If you’re working remotely, make sure that it’s in a quiet and uncluttered space. Whether it’s a quiet coffee shop, home office space, or library, find an environment that enhances your productivity the most.
4. Try new ways of working, like the Pomodoro technique.
If you’re finding that your current process of completing tasks isn’t working, employing a new method like the Pomodoro timer could aid your productivity. This time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s breaks down work into 25 minute intervals.
Segmenting a task down into these shorter intervals and taking a quick five-minute break in between, can help you focus more than working in a larger block of time.
5. Write out your daily plan and stick to it.
Another way of increasing your productivity and cutting down on distractions is by writing your plan for the following day. Breaking your day down into the 1:3:5 rule (one big task, three medium and five little tasks) can help prioritize precisely what you need to do for that day. Taking care of that more significant task in the morning can make the rest of the day more comfortable, rather than leaving it till the afternoon when your productivity and focus can lessen.
It can be challenging to say no to people, but lowering your ability to accommodate time for others and sticking to your schedule can be a helpful way to minimize distractions.
6. Ask experts for help.
If you feel that your productivity is waning and distractions are taking control, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Struggling to prioritize and get things done is not something you’re dealing with alone. Those in your inner circle, whether it be a mentor at work or a friend, may have some invaluable techniques of their own to minimize distractions, or you may be able to work together to devise a more flexible work schedule. Flexibility could unlock more time needed for you to complete tasks and remove any distractions that impede your work.
Why are these strategies essential?
Utilizing any of these strategies can provide the time management and productivity skills needed to get projects off the ground, meet critical deadlines, as well as balance further study outside of work. Thriving in the space you work in can afford you more time to pursue higher education, with degrees like a Master of Business Administration (MBA) where you can enhance your personal skills and overall business objectives.