(Pic: my 10-yo daughter’s advise is so good that I stick it to the bottom of my computer display; it will be there forever until I retire.)
Q: What if I work in a shared office space?
A: The best option is to find some quiet time in your office or find a quiet space outside your office. If you are a morning person, come in to office early so you have some quiet time for important works. My colleague comes in to his office before 7am every day. Or, you can find a quiet space for work outside your office such as the library on campus or an empty meeting room in the building.
If you are an academic and you don’t feel comfortable going ‘away’ from your office for too long (say, the whole morning), then pretend that you are giving a lecture somewhere, so you must be away. Give yourself an “excuse” to move away from the noisy environment, so to boost your performance. Some of my clients go to a nearby cafe and work for two hours!
Q: What if I keep being distracted by emails, calls and Facebook messages?
A: The answer is easy: close those apps and don’t check them! However, this is hard; indeed very hard for some people! I’d suggest that you give yourself a time slot to do these things; perhaps one 30-min slot in the morning and one in the afternoon, at least.
Most people spend way too much time on emails and Facebook that they actually spend quality time on doing things that are NOT essential for their career. Of course, replying an email or message from your boss may be important, but it is often not necessary to reply within a minute! Things can wait and if it is really urgent, your boss will find you. It always takes me quite some efforts to convince my clients that they are not as “important” as they may imagine; the world goes on without you, really.
If you want to live a longer and healthier life, start thinking more for yourself. In other words, be selfish and keep yourself happier. I never check emails on my iPhone and only reply Facebook messages after dinner, unless it’s urgent. Over time, my colleagues, clients and students know my ‘working rules’ and they get used to it. So, go on and “educate your boss”.
Dr. C. Richard Wu @REEAConsulting.com