If You're Easily Distracted At Work, These 6 Simple Tricks Will Help You Stay Focused

by Caroline Burke

Have you ever heard someone give a lecture about how it's important to "work smarter, not harder"? Well, as annoying as that lesson may be when you're in the middle of 15 assignments and feeling like you're about to drown in a puddle of your own work, there's definitely some truth to it. Learning how to tune out distractions and get sh*t done faster is a lifelong lesson, one that will only help you the more you work at it.

When you work in an office, there are plenty of distractions that can get in the way of you doing your literal job, from noisy co-workers, to blasting music, to that "open workspace" vibe, which basically invites everyone to come talk to you at your desk every five minutes. But even if you work from home, there are distractions you have to avoid there, too, like playing with your pet floof, or toggling over to Netflix for 10 minutes or so for a "quick" break.

Overall, finding ways to work more efficiently isn't usually about putting in extra effort, but more about finding ways to cut out the noise, both literally and metaphorically. Once you do that, you'll be surprised by how quickly you get your work done each day.

Here are six quick tips for drowning out the daily noise of your life and getting sh*t done faster.

Invest In Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones, $29.99, Amazon

Sometimes the easiest way to get rid of distractions is to literally block them out. Investing in a clutch pair of headphones that block out the external noise of your life doesn't have to bankrupt you, either; there are plenty of noise-cancelling headphones under $100 for you to consider.

And if you don't want to buy a pair just yet, you could also consider getting some huge headphones and simply pretending they're noise-cancelling. The visual alone of you wearing those big earmuffs might just be enough to keep your co-workers away so you can actually get things done.

Schedule A Work-From-Home Day When Things Get Really Hectic

Working from home doesn't guarantee a lack of distractions (and in some cases, it might just cause more distractions over time), but a general change of pace in how you work could be exactly what you need right now.

Working from home ensures you can actually run your day the way you want to, without dealing with unexpected meetings or co-workers who drop by "for a second" just to talk. You probably won't be able to work from home all the time, depending on what you do, but taking that day for yourself every once in a while can definitely help you get back on track with your productivity.

Use Your Calendar To Block Out Time On Your Schedule

Even if it's purely for the visual aspect of it all, blocking out time on your calendar could be enough to a) keep people at work from bothering you, and b) organize your time in a way that ensures you get everything done, distraction-free.

Pro tip: For those "busy" times you mark on your calendar, see if you can book a private workspace (if your office has those), or if you can even go do your work at a nearby coffee shop for an hour or two. Hey, it might be exactly what you need to get a few projects squared away (finally).

Map Out Exactly What You Need To Do Before You Do It

Taking the time to write out what you need to get done might eat up a few extra minutes in your day, but it'll help you stay efficient and on-track without having to regroup and figure out what you need to do next.

Consider taking time each evening to write down a set of notes about what you need to get done the next day. That way, you won't have to waste time scrolling through calendars or asking your co-workers what they need from you.

Organize Your Workspace With A Minimalist Vibe

The more organized you are, the better you feel, right? Well, according to a 2013 study from the University of Minnesota, a messy desk might signify a creative mind, but a clean desk encourages a productive day.

Unless your brain only works via a series of sticky notes, try keeping your desk as minimalist as possible, allowing you to move through your workday without feeling totally overwhelmed by the clutter. Or keep it totally messy, if that's what makes you feel better! It's all about finding the environment that makes you feel best as you work.

Be Honest With Friends And Co-Workers

Although it might feel awkward to tell someone to go away, everyone understands the feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to get done, and for that reason alone, it might be best to be totally honest with your co-workers and friends about needing that distraction-free time.

Consider telling them you need an especially quiet day to get through all of the bullets on your to-do list, or opting to work during lunch to take advantage of the quiet and taking your break when everyone else comes back.