We’ve all been there. You’re trying to focus on a task at work, but you can’t seem to get rid of the distractions. Maybe your colleague is talking too loudly, or there’s a construction project going on outside your window. Whatever the case may be, distractions can wreak havoc on our productivity.
Unfortunately, distractions at work will not only hurt your company but your well-being in the long run.
The lack of productivity we receive from distractions will result in having to work longer days, which leads to frustration and stress, eventually leading to a lack of engagement at work.
Over the years, companies have spent millions trying to reduce distractions in the workplace because of the detriment it has on employee productivity and mental well-being.
To combat distractions at work, companies have started allowing flexible schedules, providing employees with time management training, and creating quiet spaces around the office to help reduce noise levels. However, there is only so much employers can do to help minimize employee distractions. Ultimately, it is our responsibility as an employee to avoid the distractions around us.
Why is avoiding distractions at work important?
- Distractions at work can lead to committing twice as many errors as usual.
- Companies lose out on substantial profit.
- 720 hours of work per year per employee are lost due to distractions.
- It takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully recover focus after a distraction.
In this blog post, we will discuss six common distractions at work and how to avoid them!
What distracts people at work?
- Social Media
- Noisy Office
In today’s age of constant connectivity, it’s no surprise that we’re always checking our phones. Whether we’re binging our latest Netflix obsession or scrolling through social media, it’s difficult to break away from the alluring lure of technology.
According to Larry Rosen, a psychology professor and the co-author of the book The Distracted Mind, people check their phones every 15 minutes, on average. The reason behind this is the anxiety-induced impatience that makes us fear we’ll miss out on something if we stop checking our phones regularly.
The most common distractions associated with your smartphone are personal texts, phone calls, but also alerts and notifications you get from social media and other apps. Of course, you will also likely be tempted to browse the web with your smartphone, wasting even more time in the process.
To avoid having your mobile phone as a distraction, here are some things you can do.
Manage Notifications. How many times have you been in the middle of a task, only to be interrupted by a notification on your phone? It can be incredibly frustrating, and it can also disrupt your flow and make it difficult to focus on the task at hand.
To avoid this, it’s important to turn off notifications for your Social Media platforms and other apps completely. Additionally, it could be helpful to mute your phone calls and texts during the time when you want to fully immerse yourself in a task. This way, you won’t be interrupted by incoming notifications, and you’ll be able to focus on the task at hand without distractions.
Schedule Phone Use. A ringing phone can be a major distraction, particularly when you’re trying to focus on work. If you can’t seem to keep your phone muted for the entire workday, try setting a schedule for when you’ll check it.
For example, set an alarm to go off every hour, and use that as a reminder to check your messages and notifications. If you find something important and urgent, set aside a few minutes to deal with it. Otherwise, put your phone away and get back to work. By setting aside a specific time to check your phone, you can minimize distractions and stay focused on your work.
Put Your Phone Away. Let’s face it, we’re all addicted to our phones. Whether we’re checking social media, texting our friends, or playing games, it’s hard to stay away from our screens. If you’re finding it difficult to focus on work or study because of your phone, then it’s time to take some drastic measures.
Place your phone in a drawer and lock it away for the duration of your work hours, or for however long you need. Having your phone out of reach will help with temptation to check your notifications every five minutes, which will help you stay focused on the task at hand.
It might seem extreme to lock away your phone, but if you really want to reduce distractions at work, this is the best way to do it.
With all the internet has to offer, it can be very easy to get sidetracked. Sometimes I find myself so off track that I don’t even remember why I was on the internet in the first place.
There are many reasons for us to find ourselves on the internet. According to a recent survey, here are the top five reasons we are on the internet at work:
- The weather report: 51%
- The news: 44%
- Games: 24%
- Shopping: 24%
- Traffic news: 12%
If you are one of the millions of people who have the issue of getting off track while using the internet, we have some tips for you.
Use a website blocker to avoid time-wasting websites. If you’re looking for a way to improve your focus and boost your productivity, you may want to consider using a website blocker. There are a number of different apps and extensions available, and they all work in basically the same way. You simply create a blacklist of websites that you want to ban yourself using during a specified period of time.
StayFocusd, Cold Turkey, and Freedom are all great options that you can use to block Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or any other website. Website blockers can be extremely helpful if you find yourself getting distracted by social media or other online content. Give one a try today and see how it affects your productivity!
Manage your time. Rather than just aimlessly looking on the internet, take the time to figure out exactly what you are looking for. Imagine going grocery shopping without a list. The same goes for browsing the internet. Get organized before searching.
In today’s fast-paced work environment, it can be easy to get sidetracked. A study conducted by CareerBuilder found that as much as 39% of respondents cited office gossip as a major distraction from work, while 27% pointed out that chatting with colleagues about matters not related to work was another big culprit. Although some amount of socializing is to be expected in any workplace, it is important to stay focused on the task at hand in order to be productive.
One way to avoid gossip is to choose a workstation near productive people, if possible. The people you work with have a big impact on your day-to-day experience. If you’re constantly surrounded by gossipers and chatters, it can be difficult to stay focused and be productive. However, if you’re surrounded by people who are always working hard and don’t engage in idle chatter, it can be inspiring. When surrounding yourself around productive individuals, you’ll likely find yourself following suit and matching their productivity levels.
In addition, you may even find that you enjoy your job more when you’re around productive people who are avoiding distractions at work.
Co-workers dropping by to ask a question is a common workplace distraction. On average, employees usually have only 11 minutes to focus on a project in one go before being interrupted. Afterward, they need about 25 minutes to restore their full focus on the task at hand. This might not seem like a lot, but it can add up over the course of a workday.
Not to mention, research by The Journal of Experimental Psychology that covered 300 participants showed that being interrupted, even on simple tasks, leads people to make errors more frequently.
- A 2.8-second interruption doubles the error rate
- A 4.4-second interruption triples the error rate
The good news is that there are several ways to handle co-workers interrupting your work.
Make your schedule public. Having a clear schedule is important for maintaining focus and avoiding distractions, but it’s especially critical if you work in an open office. In an open office, there are often more opportunities for impromptu conversations and drop-ins from teammates. While these can be helpful for building relationships and sharing ideas, they can also break your concentration and interfere with your work.
By sharing your schedule with your team, you can set expectations about when you’re available to chat, and when you are not. Additionally, if you need to focus on a particularly delicate task, you can block off time in your calendar so that others know not to disturb you. In short, sharing your schedule is a simple way to help you stay focused and productive in an open office.
Wear headphones. Headphones are not just good for listening to music. In fact, they can be a valuable tool in the workplace. For example, if you need to concentrate on a complex task, wearing headphones can help you to block out distractions and stay focused.
If you are working on a project that requires frequent collaboration with others, headphones can help you to signal when you need some time to work independently. Of course, there will always be times when headphones cannot substitute for face-to-face communication. But in many situations, they can be a helpful way to increase your productivity and focus.
Politely let your co-workers know you are busy. We’ve all been there- you’re in the middle of a task or conversation and someone interrupts you. It can be frustrating, especially if you were in the middle of something important. However, it’s important to remain polite and professional.
One way to do this is to say: “I’m sorry, I’m currently in the middle of something. Can I get back to you later in the day or tomorrow morning?” This lets the person know that you value their time, but that you also have priorities that you need to focus on.
Additionally, it gives them a specific time frame for when they can expect a response from you. By being clear and concise, you can diffuse any potential conflict and maintain a positive relationship with your co-workers.
Social media has become an integral part of our lives in recent years. We use it to stay in touch with friends and family, to catch up on the latest news, and to find out about new products and services.
According to research, we now spend an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes on social media each day, which is a significant increase from the 1 hour and 30 minutes we spent in 2012. While there are some who argue that this is too much time, it’s clear that social media is here to stay. And given the many benefits social media offers, it’s likely that we’ll continue to spend more and more time on it for years to come.
However, it is important to note that social media browsing should be done on your own time, not during your workday. It’s easy to get caught up in scrolling through your feed, reading articles, and watching videos. But all that time adds up, and before you know it, you’ve wasted hours that could have been spent working on more productive tasks.
We suggest turning off your phone completely to avoid the use of social media and blocking social media pages from your office computer. If you are unable to do this, there is a way to balance social media use with work time, and it’s called the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy that involves working for predefined periods of time followed by short breaks. You can apply this technique to your social media use by setting a schedule for when you’ll check your accounts.
For example, you could set a goal to check your social media accounts every 30 minutes, 1 hour, or 2 hours. Once the alarm on your Pomodoro timer goes off, use your designated break time to check your accounts before resuming work for another predefined session.
By following this plan, you’ll be able to stay on top of your social media use without letting it interfere with your work. However, when using this technique, you will have to be weary of how long you use your social media for. You shouldn’t be using social media at all at work, but if you have to, limit it to 30 minutes per day. If you do spend 30 minutes browsing social media during the workday, expect to work through your lunch break.
There are a variety of noises that can distract you while you’re trying to work. Everyone has distractions at work, but there can be steps to take to reduce them.
Noisy co-workers. Plantronics, Inc research shows that co-workers talking loudly over the phone is the number one distraction for 75% of the research participants, while co-workers talking nearby is the second most distracting noise for as much as 65% of the research participants.
Chances are that your colleagues who talk loudly over the phone, or have group conversations nearby, don’t even know they are distracting you. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to be polite to explain what you are currently working on, and why you would need more quiet to finish the said work with high quality.
For example, you might say something like, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’m working on a project that requires a lot of concentration. Would you mind taking your conversation outside?” By being polite, you will help to create a more productive work environment for everyone.
Office noise. Office noise can be a major challenge for people who are trying to focus on their work. In some cases, the noise may be constant, such as the sound of the heating or air conditioning system. In other cases, the noise may be intermittent, such as the sound of the copy machine or printer.
For some people, even the sound of coffee being made can be a distractor. The best way to deal with office noise is to try to find a way to block it out. This may mean wearing headphones or earplugs, or simply finding a quiet place to work.
Some people find that listening to calm music can help to drown out the noise of the office. Others find that they need to move to a different location in order to find a place where they can concentrate. Ultimately, each person will need to find what works best for them in order to deal with office noise and remain productive.
Outside noise. Outdoor noise pollution is a growing problem in many cities and towns. Even if you live in a relatively quiet neighborhood, chances are you’ve been subjected to blaring car horns, screaming children, or construction work at some point. This noise can be highly distracting, preventing you from concentrating on work or causing you to miss important details in a conversation.
While there’s no easy solution to this problem, there are some steps you can take to minimize the impact of outdoor noise on your life. If possible, try to work in a quiet area of your home or office, away from windows and doors. If you need to make a phone call or participate in a video conference, use headphones to minimize background noise.
Additionally, programs like Krisp eliminate background noise on video conferences, preventing your clients from hearing your noisy office.
If you find yourself regularly disturbed by outdoor noise, consider investing in a pair of sound-cancelling headphones. With a little bit of effort, you can reduce the impact of outdoor noise on your life.
How to Elimate Distractions at Work
Distractions at work can be anything from noise levels to having too many tabs open on your computer. When you’re trying to focus on a task, these distractions can cause you to lose focus and become less productive.