Collaboration without Distractions: Utopia or just a Smart Tool Choice Away

A productive and successful workplace naturally entails a certain level of collaboration. Rare are the successful one-person enterprises that require little to no collaborative effort.

And while the modern workplace—connected, tech-oriented, or even remote—has developed hundreds of ways to collaborate, it has also inadvertently spawned an equal number of distractions.

It is these most common, often tech-enabled, workplace distractions we shall be exploring today, while also offering a smart tool choice that helps reduce (if not eliminate) distractions, thus giving a healthy boost to all the elements of collaborative success: creativity, productivity, innovation and growth.

Distracting Smartphones, Preventative Apps

Probably the worst offender in the distraction realm, our smartphones have not only become our window into the world, but they have also given all of us a mild case of ADD.

And while it is perfectly understandable that you want your phone to alert you to new emails, messages, calls and texts, you don’t want it to do so all the time.

Start by simply muting all notifications while you are working—even the work-related ones.

If you are sitting in front of a screen anyway, you’ll see them. Then, use an app that will lock other apps (like Offtime or a similar solution), preventing you from entering the world of social media while your phone is in your hand.

It will definitely take some time to get used to it. You’ll notice yourself reaching for the phone even when you don’t need it—but this habit can be kicked like all others, it just takes a bit of patience.

Mindomo Diagram 1

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An Avalanche Of Emails, A Simple Pause

Over 306 billion emails were sent and received per day in 2020—no wonder they are so distracting.

Even though emails are one of the top collaborative tools we rely on daily, their constant zooming in and out is quite equal to the disruptiveness of the Wizarding World’s paper airplanes.

A simple solution, however, is available—use an add-on for your email client that will pause emails for a specific period of time. That way you will be able to focus, even if you keep Alt-Tab-ing back to your inbox every once in a while.

Mindomo Diagram 2

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Curious how other companies are using communications technology to thrive? Find out in our special feature, The Future Now of Work, including advice from top experts.

Malcontent Meetings And The Mayhem Of Memos

A collaborative staple, the meeting (in-person or over video), is oddly also one of the main sources of workplace distractions.

Working from home has ushered in a new workplace malady, videoconferencing fatigue, which impacts productivity and focus.

The first solution to this problem does not require a tool per se—just the cutting of unnecessary and over-long meetings.

However, a tool that can help you is a simple email, project management or even voice recording tool.

Instead of having everyone taking notes and debating points, send out an agenda before each meeting, listing the main discussion points. Select one person whose input in the conversation is not needed to take notes, which you will then send out to everyone who’s attended.

This will not only make the meetings more productive and focused, it will also eliminate the post-meeting distraction as each individual goes over their own notes.

Planning Roadblocks And The Road To A Plan

When more than one person is involved in the creation of a plan, opportunities for distraction and derailment abound.

Then there is also the issue of following through with the plan, especially if it has not been mapped out correctly.

The simple tool that can help you overcome these hurdles is the mind map, which will help you break your project down into smaller tasks, show you how each task relates to all the others, and help you take your ideas from the brainstorming stage to the execution stage.

It provides both a bigger picture overview of a plan, at the same time allowing you to focus on the tiniest particles with laser precision.

Mindomo Diagram 3

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People As The Ultimate Distraction

While our global addiction to smartphones reflects our tech-dependency, the people we work with can be equally as distracting, if not more so.

As most workplaces use some sort of chat app to communicate (working from home has boosted their use to 81% of total businesses, up from 67% in 2019), employees lean into a perfectly natural urge and just chat away.

And while the human connection remains an integral part of the collaboration, sometimes the chat app is your worst enemy. It is certainly a communication method that has its uses, but nevertheless, it can be distracting.

The simple solution is integrated into each app—in the form of a “do not disturb” status. On the other hand, if that option alone is not enough for you, you can hark back to one of the apps we’ve already mentioned that will limit your access to the chat app and prevent you from engaging in collaboration while you need to focus on individual work.

To Sum It All Up

The road to distraction-free collaboration is clear. It involves a lot of personal restraint and the reliance on the same technology that has caused a lot of the collaboration (and distraction) in the first place.

Be smart about your tool choices, and opt for ones that allow for disengagement, as well as engagement. Exercise your own free will and choose to distance yourself from the chatter whenever you need to slide into deep and meaningful work.

While the strings that attach you to the digital world will pull on your thoughts tightly, the less attention you pay them, the less taut they will become.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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