3 Keys to Avoid Common Workplace Distractions

If you read articles on the internet (since you’re reading this one, it’s probably a safe bet), you likely see at least a handful of articles focusing on productivity each day. With good reason: Today’s employers expect their employees to get more done. “Time is money” is the old adage, and it holds true today.

The “secret” to getting more done.helpmates

What if instead of getting more done, we focused on eliminating common workplace distractions that are unimportant or worse, make you “feel” like you’re being productive, when reality is just the opposite (and they’re taking us away from truly important tasks)? It might not be much of a “secret,” but eliminating distractions can make a drastic impact on your ability to get work done and feel satisfied when you leave the office each day.

Focusing on these three keys will help:

Put away the phone. Is your mobile phone an accessory, a communication device…or an extension of your physical body? The latter is true for an increasing number of adults. In fact, people between the ages of 18 and 36 check their phone an average of 43 times per day! When added up individually, one or two minutes on your phone more than 40 times equals a little over an hour. That doesn’t sound too intimidating; however, when you think about the time taken away from tasks, or restarting important tasks after checking your phone, the actual impact is much greater. Making matters worse, actually checking your phone isn’t the only thing distracting you from work – just hearing and seeing phone notifications is enough to distract you and prevent you from focusing on your tasks. The solution is as simple as it sounds – don’t keep your phone somewhere easily accessible, where the temptation to check it (or the sights and sounds of notifications) can cause you to veer off course.

Manage your email. Researchers have found that checking email more often leads to increased stress and feeling emotionally drained. So then why do many of us check email compulsively throughout the day? Regardless of specific industry, many of us now find ourselves in service-based roles. Our clients or customers expect us to respond to their questions or concerns quickly. But how quickly? Another recent study found that three quarters of employees report replying to email within an hour of receiving it. Is that really necessary? Depending on your industry or specific role, maybe — but it’s highly unlikely. Rather than constantly checking email all day (which, as noted above, not only takes the time necessary to read and respond to emails, but the time needed to resume tasks or get back into whatever you were working on previously), schedule set times throughout the day to check it. In most cases, checking email first thing in the morning, just before or after lunch, and again near the end of the day ensures you read every message within a couple hours of receiving it, and can promptly address anything that needs to be addressed. For real emergencies, your coworkers, clients or customers will call you or find you in person, they won’t be sending emails. So schedule time to check and respond to emails, and focus the rest of your time on truly important tasks.

Drown out ambient noise. Open offices are becoming more common, and even in traditional, cubicle-based offices, conversations and other ambient noise can bleed into your workspace — and make it difficult to focus on important tasks. The simplest way to drown out noise and create a more suitable work environment is to wear headphones and listen to music that helps you focus. But if your workplace doesn’t allow headphones, consider explaining to your supervisor that, while you are a team player, the nature of your job makes it difficult to focus with the level of noise outside your cubicle. Your supervisor may be able to accommodate a request for a new cubicle. Or, you may be able to negotiate the addition of a “white noise” machine or fan, which can drown out ambient noise and provide a better environment for you to get your work done.

Avoiding workplace distractions at work can help you get more done and be more successful, but when you’re looking for a job that provides you with the opportunities you need, call Helpmates. We work with top employers to provide jobs across Southern California, and we’ll find the right job to help you reach your goals. 

Mastering the Art of Multiple Job Offers and Counter Offers

Whether you call it a “talent war” or a “skirmish,” one fact is certain: businesses today are in extreme competition for talented professionals. And that competition puts many job seekers at a distinct advantage.HM

Without a doubt, today’s businesses want top talent — and they are willing to provide competitive compensation in order to get it. Position yourself strategically — one excellent way is to partner with a staffing firm —  and there is incredible potential to receive not just one job offer, but multiple offers.

But how do you handle multiple offers and potential counter offers from employers? These tips can help you weigh the benefits of each offer and make the best decision for your family and career:

  1. Think about your current employer first. If you’ve received multiple job offers and visit your employer to review, you may receive a counter offer. This counter offer could be very tempting – you wouldn’t have to learn new processes and procedures, or memorize new names for your coworkers. You’d keep the old, familiar feeling, while also gaining a higher salary or other fringe benefits. Seems like an ideal situation, right? If you’ve already decided to leave but feel lured by the counter offer, consider this: If you have to turn in notice and announce you’re leaving in order to get a promotion or salary increase, does your employer really value your contributions? Or are they simply buying time to find your replacement? Or perhaps they realize that retaining one employee is cheaper than finding and hiring a new one. While the initial counter offer could seem appealing, the long-term ramifications of accepting that offer may not align with your initial plans and goals for seeking new employment.
  2. Get it in writing. So, you’ve decided to consider multiple offers from employers – congratulations! But until the choice has been made, it might be best to temper your excitement and focus on the task at hand. First things first, ensure you have any job offers in writing before making a decision. Verbal offers are not legally offers, and employers may — and this could be unintentional or a miscommunication, but it does happen — change the details of your verbal offer. If you’ve already turned down another employer, you’ll end up stuck with whatever is left. Alert the HR representative making a verbal offer that you are happy to consider the offer, as soon as you get it in writing.
  3. Be careful. Multiple offers are unsurprising to employers today — remember that talent war mentioned above. That doesn’t mean, though, that they enjoy being pitted against one another. It’s important to tread carefully and ensure you’re communicating thoroughly with employers. You most definitely don’t want them to feel that they’re in a sort of game. If you’ve received an offer from one employer while still interviewing with another, wait until the final interview and alert the recruiter that you have received an unexpected offer from another employer. Reassure them that they are your top pick, but that the other offer is appealing. Ask them when they might be considering making a hiring decision, then leave the ball in their court. If they are strongly considering hiring you for the position, they will likely be motivated to enter the fray and make their own offer. If, however, they decide to back out at that time, know that you’ve been totally honest and upfront with the employer, and that you are choosing the employer who is most invested in your future.
  4. Don’t burn bridges. Regardless of which employer you choose, always end the decision with personalized thank you notes. Communicating with an organization after you’ve turned down a job may feel awkward – kind of like running an old boyfriend or girlfriend at the grocery store.  But, sending out a quick note thanking each employer for its consideration officially closes the hiring process while leaving them with a positive impression of you. Sure, you may have chosen another opportunity this time, but you never know when you will cross paths with either that employer again, or with someone you met during the interview process. It is always better to be gracious and honest with employers!

Before you can choose between multiple job offers, you need to jump feet first into your job search. Helpmates partners with talented professionals like you to match them with excellent career opportunities at respected employers. Visit our job board to learn more about our current jobs in Southern California and submit your resume to get started.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/ambro 

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