There are so many ways to waste time. Whether you’re thinking about what you’re having for dinner, busy trying to implement the “latest and greatest marketing strategy,” or getting lost in your social media account, it’s very difficult to avoid distractions at work.
Not all so-called time wasters are actually negative. We all need time to unwind, and being unproductive for certain portions of our day can refresh and prepare us for the rest of our to-do list.
Focus = Success
However, as a loan officer, you know better than anyone how quickly your day can become derailed. To a certain extent, your success relies directly on how much time and hard work you put into your business. Whether you’re cultivating leads, meeting with realtor partners, or closing loans, there’s a strong connection between how many productive hours you have in your day, and your loan volume.
And since it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus after a distraction, it’s not just the time spent on the distraction that matters. The time it will take you to get back “in the zone” is also a critical factor to consider.
Find Your Focus
Because of this, it’s in your best interest to avoid distractions at work as much as you possibly can. Although it’s impossible to completely cut out the things that make us lose our focus, there are a few ways to reset your productivity clock.
Determine Why You’re Distracted
When you really consider what is driving your distraction, you might be surprised. We all lose our focus for different reasons, but there are a few common factors that you might recognize.
Distraction as a Form of Avoidance
Perhaps you’re avoiding a task that you’re dreading. For instance, if you planned to call 20 past customers from your database yesterday afternoon, but found yourself watching a funny YouTube video instead, you might be avoiding an unpleasant task.
We all do this, so it’s important to strategize how to minimize the avoidance of less pleasant, but still important tasks. Plan out your day according to how likely you are to become distracted. That phone call that you’ve been putting off all week? Schedule it for first thing in the morning. You’ll knock it out and immediately feel more accomplished.
Distraction Due to Undermotivation
Maybe you’re not avoiding an unpleasant task, but instead are simply not taking advantage of your peak productivity hours. Those emails that you need to return? Plan to tackle your inbox right after lunch, when you are not normally motivated for intense or creative thinking. On the other hand, determine when you are most clear-minded and focused, and schedule your most important tasks for these hours.
Cut Out the Useless
There are certain things that are easy to see for what they truly are: mindless distractions. And many of these time wasters can be found online. Even though technology has given us the ability to streamline our work days like never before, it also has provided a whole new realm of distractions.
You might find yourself scrolling social media, watching videos online, or reading about any number of interesting subjects. These pursuits are all fine and good for when you’re sitting on your couch at home. However, if you’re trying to get work done, they can be a massive distraction.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Thankfully, there are solutions to problems such as this. If you find yourself becoming distracted by your phone, consider downloading an app such as OffTime. This app will allow you to limit what apps you can access at specific times. For example, you can set it to block out social media, games, or even text messages during certain hours. Plus, you’ll be able to see exactly how much time you spend on your phone, and on which specific apps.
If your kryptonite is your computer, there are programs for this as well! Cold Turkey is a browser extension that allows you to block certain websites, or even the entire internet for set amounts of time.
Schedule the Critical
Now that you’ve set yourself up to avoid distractions at work, it’s time to fill your time with more productive tasks.
Write It Out
In the morning, or at night before you leave the office, list what you’d like to accomplish that day. You could choose to breakdown your to-do list into a few different categories. For example, you could list tasks by priority levels. Or, you could organize entires by the one-three-five list rule. In this practice, you choose your biggest and most important job of the day, and assign that to the number one slot. Then, you choose three smaller tasks for your list. Finally, pick five small items that will be quick to complete, and of lower priority.
Leverage Digital Tools
If you’d like a truly hands-off to-do list, invest in software that already knows what you should accomplish in your day. Jungo’s CRM is optimized to boost your efficiency. When you login in the morning, you can immediately see your daily digital to-do list, right on your home page. From the borrowers you need to call, to the realtors you should send an email update to, everything is tracked right within your database.
Set a Time
Whether you choose to write out your to-do list, or type it into an app, setting a time to create a task list for the day will help you to stick to your plan. After all, it’s difficult to check off your to-do list if you don’t have anything written down! Often, the first step to truly avoid distractions at work is determining what you need to accomplish.
Recognize the Reality
The truth is that no matter how hard you focus, you’ll never be able to avoid distractions at work 100% of the time. That phone call from your borrower regarding their loan? You should probably answer that call. The team member dropping by your desk to discuss an important matter? Sit down with them to chat.
The important thing is not removing all distractions from your life, but instead, focusing on what you can control. Self-inflicted distractions probably make up the majority of interruptions in your day, so tackle those first.
After that, if you’re still struggling with how to avoid external distractions at work, consider how you approach your tasks after the interruption has passed. At first, it may take you the full 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back into your flow, or perhaps even longer. However, with careful training, you may be able to shrink this time down considerably.
There’s no doubt that your world is full of distractions, and realistically, this will always be the case. However, you can choose which interruptions you allow into certain portions of your day. This will take time and careful consideration. So, don’t be surprised if it takes you time to truly avoid distractions at work. Focus is an earned skillset, and it takes practice.