Do you find yourself starting every day with the promise you’ll be more focused and productive? Then, without fail, your motivation fades about as fast as the updates rolling in on that subreddit thread you’ve been following for two hours.
The internet is flooded with things you shouldn’t do at work.
Luckily, the sales profession is nothing if not built on the backs of boundary pushers and rule breakers. Here are five “distractions” that can actually have a positive impact on your productivity.
1) Talking to Your Coworkers
According to a recent Workforce Mood Tracker, 89% of employees surveyed say work relationships matter to their quality of life.
Taking a moment to chat with coworkers at your desk is important. It can prevent burnout, help you feel connected to your team, and get you through tough days or months when you just can’t seem to meet your quota. To ensure conversations enhance your productivity instead of detracting from it, follow a few simple guidelines:
- Take note of the time. Say your coworker strikes up a chat about last night’s Game of Thrones episode. Notice the time as you share your own theory on why Brienne of Tarth actually deserves to be the Mother of Dragons. Hold yourself to a five- or 10-minute limit, and wrap up the conversation when you approach time.
- Read the room. As a salesperson, you’re good at this. If everyone around you has earbuds in, or several people are on important calls, now’s not the time to share your GoT theory.
- Plan team events. Use tools like Eventyoda or teambonding.com to plan team outings in your city. It’s a great way to blow off steam after the end-of-quarter push. It also gives everyone time to chat and catch up outside of the office.
2) Taking Breaks
Walking for 30 minutes a day dramatically increases blood flow to the brain. That increase boosts creative thought and productivity. Deal have you stumped? Stretch your legs for a half hour and come back ready to solve problems in half the time.
Exercising is another great way to stay healthy and productive. A study from The University of British Columbia found regular aerobic exercise enlarges the area of the brain in charge of verbal memory and learning. Just make sure you get your heart rate up -- resistance training, balance, and muscle-toning exercises don’t have the same benefits.
And make sure you’re getting outside. Researchers have found that spending time outdoors restores mental energy and protects against “mental fatigue” (otherwise known as how your brain feels on Fridays).
It’s also a good idea to grab a healthy snack on your break. The brain works best with about 25 grams of glucose circulating in the blood stream. When in doubt, grab a banana.
3) Listening to Noises
Say yes to noise in your ears and no to noise on your computer. Sites like Brain.fm use AI-generated music to improve the quality of your focus by converting “auditory neuroscience into personalized brainwave training programs.” Create an account, pop in your earbuds, and notice a change in your ability to focus within the first 10-15 minutes.
Research shows that ambient noise like plates clattering and coffee machines buzzing can actually help you work better. A career in sales may not lend itself to the bohemian lifestyle of cafe working, but apps like Coffitivity mimic the environment of your favorite coffee shop, without ever leaving your desk.
4) Ignoring Other Tasks
Not being great at multitasking is often vilified. We add it to our resumes, but are any of us actually good at it? Researchers from the American Psychological Association say that answer is “no.” Our minds are not designed for heavy-duty multitasking, and we actually lose time when we try to switch between tasks.
Instead, use Tony Robbins’ Rapid Planning Method (RPM) to break down your to-do list into chunks of no more than three pieces of information. This makes it easier for the brain to process a long list. Next, use a time-blocking tool like Toggl to break your day into 15-, 30-, 60-, or 90-minute blocks of time. Work without interruption during each block. And always give your mind a break when you’re done.
5) Playing on Your Computer
The University of Cincinnati recently found taking internet breaks during business hours has a positive impact on workers. The study found three main “consequences” of taking online breaks: Recovery, learning, and satisfaction. After spending a few minutes surfing the web, employees reported feeling refreshed, peaceful, and more focused.
Take 15 minutes during your day to schedule a doctor’s appointment or catch up on current events. You might even try an app like Headspace, designed to relieve stress, help you focus, and improve your overall health in just 10 minutes a day.
Your mind is packed with calls you want to make, demos you have to prepare for, and deals you need to close. Give it a break and see how it benefits your workflow. Want to track your progress? Try an app like RescueTime that provides analytics on your daily habits and productivity.