5 Common Productivity Tools That Are Really Distracting

by Mikey Rox on 14 October 2013 0 comments

Sometimes it's tough to tell if, as a society, we're incredibly productive or incredibly distracted.

Oddly enough, some of the tools and mechanisms we've put in place to enhance our productivity have done little more than burden us with distractions that ultimately take seconds, minutes, maybe even hours away from our scheduled work time. (See also: Productivity Hacks From a Work-at-Home Mom)

If you're struggling to get through the day without being unnecessarily distracted, then you should consider that the problem might be simpler than you originally thought and could even be coming from the very items we've put in place to make us more productive.

With that in mind, here are five of those items that you might be better off without if you actually want to get something done.

1. Smartphones at Work

It might sound ridiculous, especially since smartphones are thought to be titans of modern productivity. But they're not. Think about it — is there really anything more distracting than a smartphone? Sure you've got your productivity tools, calendars, apps, and everything you could need for the modern working man or woman. Yet they are constantly a distraction.

Unless you can have a smartphone with no social media apps, no games, and all the alerts turned off, and then at best you might be able to break even in terms of productivity. If you own one, fine; but don't tempt yourself by always being on it at work. Take texts or calls from family members, but other than that, leave it alone if you want to get something done. (See also: How to Stay Focused at Work)

2. Dual Monitors

No one looks as productive as someone working with two monitors on their desk. To be fair, some people need these. Graphic designers, programmers, engineers, and a variety of other professions are more productive with multiple monitors.

But if you're not working a job where the need for two monitors is obvious, chances are it's just giving you an opportunity to have a distraction window open on one screen and a work window open on another. (See also: 6 Tools That Stop Computer Distractions)

3. Email Alerts

The root issue here is simple: How many times a day do you need to check your email?

If your job isn't hyper time-sensitive, a better way to deal with email would be to turn off alerts and then check your email on your own terms. Nothing cuts into your workflow like an email popping up, because it somehow instantly grabs our attention, no matter how boring it might be.

Take the reins of your email accounts and check it only when you want to. Every 45 minutes or an hour is not ridiculous. If someone really needs to get ahold of you, they'll call.

4. Music

There seems to be a lot of material online that suggests music can help you concentrate; however, that's not always the case.

Some people need complete silence to focus, while others can deal with a little bit of background noise. Also consider the amount of time you spend picking out songs, making a playlist, and then being distracted when a song you really like comes on.

If music doesn't distract you, then no worries, but if you find it hard to focus when it's on, doing without it for the workday is the better option.

5. Energy Drinks

How could this possibly hurt your productivity? It's just a shot of vitamin B and caffeine, right?

It is just a shot of vitamin B (and a few other things), but energy drinks sometimes make you feel like you can't get anything done without them, which can make the other three hours of your day somewhat exhausting (if you're taking a certain hour-named energy beverage, that is…). Add to that the fact that they're rather pricey, and then you have to think about the time it takes you to make the money to pay for it so that you can keep working.

If it's even just a little bit habit forming (which everything can be), then you're dealing with a certain level of counter-productivity. Unless, of course, you think making the energy-drink people rich is "productive." (See also: 10 Kicky Drinks Without the Caffeine)

Achieving Productivity

When an athlete wants to perform well (i.e., be productive) everything they do leading up to and during the event is designed to help them towards that goal. Nothing that would even present a potential distraction is considered helpful or acceptable. In terms of our own productivity, we should take the same approach.

And remember — just because someone says a tool is productive doesn't mean it's ultimately going to work for you.

What "productivity" tools do you find distracting?

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