Did you hear the news? France recently passed a law that gives employees “the right to disconnect.” All companies in France with more than 50 employees must set up hours, usually evenings and weekends, when the employees are not to check in electronically. No more work-related texts, messages or emails on nights or weekends. pop-art-multitasking-business-woman-desk.jpg Do you think a law like that would pass in the U.S.? While it should, it’s highly unlikely. Sure, all that extra work might be great for the health of the business, but France realized it was doing nothing for the health of its employees by expecting them to stay connected all the time. Stress levels increased, making them frazzled, fragile and more susceptible to illness.

Bonjour and félicitations, if you’re reading this from France, but our guess is that you’re reading this from somewhere in the United States. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to follow in the footsteps of the French when it comes to disconnecting. As busy as you are, how much work are you actually getting done? illustration-technology-distractions.jpg According to a 2008 study done at Ghent University, every time you stop what you’re doing to switch tasks, you are reducing something called your “working memory.” This makes you less efficient at accomplishing tasks you were supposed to be doing to begin with. What’s more, a study from the University of California Irvine found that it takes a whopping 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on task after being distracted. That can really add up during your work day. Of course, you can try to work faster, but doing so increases your chances of making mistakes.

The French are smart because disconnecting not only allows its employees to take healthy breaks, it also provides the ability to do more productive and focused work. Just think of how much work you can get done if you have no distractions throughout your day.

woman-focus-on-work-laptop.jpgHere are some tips on how to disconnect and get more work done:

  • Schedule time during the day to dedicate solely to the work you want to finish and be diligent about sticking to that time frame.
  • Maximize your screen for the work you want to get done and minimize, or better yet, close windows for everything else. Block the internet, apps, and websites with the popular Freedom app.
  • Close your email application and turn off its notifications to avoid checking it each time a new message arrives (schedule email checking time).
  • Put your business phone on “Do not disturb.” This is nice because voicemails can be checked and calls returned in order of importance after your critical tasks are complete.
  • Silence your cell phone, or even put it on airplane mode for thirty or sixty minutes, when you focus solely on your task. It’s okay to be unavailable!
  • Kindly make others aware that you do not want to be interrupted or distracted. Wear headphones. Doing so sends a message that you are busy.
  • Hang a “Do not disturb” sign on your door. Search for cute but effective $5 door signs on Etsy.

Don’t beat yourself up if you continue struggling to avoid distractions. Keep practicing and over time you’ll learn to better self-manage and increasingly improve your willpower. Or better yet, you could always move to France…

Do you have tips for avoiding distractions at work? If so, let us know on Facebook or Twitter.