Meeting the daily expectations of your job description is one thing, but staying on task from 9 to 5 is another issue entirely. Between iPhone notifications, text messages, and incoming emails 24/7, staying focused at work has never been more important — or potentially challenging. And while intentionalbreaks during the workday are integral to good health and productivity — like getting up to stretch, take a walk, or meditate for a few minutes — distractions are different.
According to a study from UC Irvine, it can takes about 23 minutes to bounce back from a distraction at work. Inc. reports that workplace interruptions can wind up costing a lot of time throughout the course of the day. According to the UC Irvine study, recovering from interruptions at work also increases stress, as workers struggle to work faster to catch up with projects. Inc. also notes that workers typically switch tasks every three minutes on average, so prioritizing how you use your time at work, and setting boundaries with digital distractions, is key.
"When you're the boss, it's so easy to get distracted because everyone is always coming to you with so many needs and questions throughout the day," Lindzi Shanks, co-founder of XO Marshmallow, tells Bustle via email. Making to-do lists and spending time away from her phone is helpful, Shanks says, as is scheduling time when she's not available: "I had to learn to ask for 'me time' ... where people can't interrupt me. Having these blocks of time allows me to get a lot of focused work done."
Fortunately, like any skill set, increasing the ability to tune out distractions is something that can be developed with practice, combined with a few key strategies. Here are 11 ways to level up your ability to tune out distractions, so you can focus at work like a distraction-free expert.