Minimizing Distractions at Work During March Madness® Time

Chances are, if you’re not a sports fan, the next three weeks are going to be tough for you and you’re going to need a way of minimizing distractions at work. Tens of millions of people across the country get swept up in “March Madness®”—the three week long NCAA Men’s Basketball championship tournament. It is estimated that nearly 51 million American workers (about 20 percent of the workforce) fill out brackets and participate in office pools and online contests. Then, they’ll frantically check their computers, laptops, tablets and phone apps for updates on game scores throughout the day, making this sporting event one of the biggest attractions — and distractions — in the country.

The outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates that the tourney will cost U.S. businesses nearly $4 billion in lost revenue. Throw in the fact that in 2018, St. Patrick’s Day falls on the first Saturday of the tournament and … well … you might be the only person in your office who is actually trying to get some work done on Friday.  

So … in honor of the people like you who don’t watch basketball and are too temperate (or old) to get overly rowdy on St. Paddy’s Day, here are some tips on how to minimize distractions at work. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re heading to the local sports bar to try and kill two birds with one stone.

7  ways of minimizing distractions at the office while everyone else is bracketing:

1. Write it down

Your to-do list should be ever-changing. Make sure you always have it on hand to jot down something you remember and cross off the tasks you’ve completed. If you get distracted, go back to your to-do list and see what’s next.

2. Prioritize your to-do list

Rank your tasks using A, B, and C lists. Work on the most important tasks first then progress toward the smaller work.

3. Set goals for yourself

To keep yourself on track, add self-imposed deadlines to your to-do list. For example, say you’ll have your first important task finished by 10 a.m. and the next by noon. This way you hold yourself accountable.

4. Time yourself

If setting expectations for yourself isn’t enough, break your time into even smaller units. Estimate the duration it will take you to complete a task and use a timer to keep yourself going. Just remember not to rush through your work!

5. Customize your workspace

Your physical space is important to your concentration. Make sure you get rid of anything distracting on your desk or in your office. Design your space so you face a wall if you’re often distracted in your office or outside the window. Keep your door shut or use headphones to play soft wordless music when noise is an issue.

6. Turn off any e-mail, text, phone or social media alerts 

All the noises and beeps are just a distraction from your work. Personal e-mails, voicemails and social media sites can wait for when you’re on a break.

7. Take a break

If you can’t focus, give yourself five or 10 minutes away from your desk. Take a quick walk around the block or read a magazine article. Then, return to your work with renewed determination.

Paying attention at work has a lot to do with planning your day well and keeping yourself moving from one task to another. You’ll lose concentration at work occasionally, even when there’s not a major sporting event or fun holiday happening. Luckily, it’s not hard to create an environment that works for you to minimize distractions.


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