How to stay productive and focused while… wait, what?
Unless it’s the weekend, or if you’re here because your boss has tasked you with finding out a definitive* list of the top distractions in the work place (yeah, right) then we’ll have to politely ask you to leave… if it’s lunch time, we’ll allow it.
Workplace distractions and how to avoid them…
It’s official, 95% of us get distracted at work. Either that means that we’re distracting you with this very information and contributing to that figure, or that we have no chance of sustaining your attention before you reach the end anyway – unless you can finish this article in 8 minutes or less.
Costing millions in revenue and countless hours every year, what are the biggest workplace distractions, and how can we avoid them?
#1 The internet
The reason you’re here and one of the driving forces behind many office jobs, the internet is a two-sided coin. Offering you more information than you’ll ever need can often result in you getting side tracked… which is a slippery slope once it gets started. Before you know it you’ve found yourself going from innocently querying the current US exchange rates for your international report to being one click away from a weekend in Vegas.
Aside from monitoring or blocking access to certain realms of the internet (which, let’s face it, shouldn’t really be necessary) – self-control is the biggest way to curb internet distractions. Put simply, get back to work!
Another facet of working life that you probably couldn’t live without (unless you’re self-employed) – co-workers can pick you up, offer solutions to some of your hardest problems, and provide you with the answers you need all day long. On a good day. The other four days of the week they can distract you at the worst possible times. Whether it’s being too noisy, bothering you with queries, or simply coming over to spoil last night’s episode of Game of Thrones that you’re yet to catch up on – it can take a while to refocus once you’ve been distracted.
The best way to counter this problem? Make it clear that you need time and space to complete something. If that fails, finding that fine line between being polite and ruthless should do the trick.
#3 Social Media
A workplace distraction that barely existed a decade ago, social media is now one of the most disruptive presences in the workplace. Messages, invitations, likes and comments – whether it’s a notification from a prospective employer on LinkedIn or Kate from Sales liking the egg you posted on Instagram at breakfast, neither are important between 9 and 5.
Not being logged in to any of your social media accounts on any workplace computer and keeping your phone on silent, in a drawer, or even off (yes, there is actually a button that does that) will keep all those social notifications out of sight – and out of mind. After all, it’s only really a distraction when we check it, so just don’t!
I once had a meeting about meetings. Okay, that’s not true, but there’s a valid point to be made about the importance of meetings and how effective, and ineffective they can be. Without actionable outcomes, they become pointless, and can majorly side track you from other important responsibilities.
Unless a meeting is absolutely necessary, avoid it. If avoiding it is unavoidable (which it probably is), at least try and work around it so that you aren’t disrupting otherwise productive work by attending it. Work in tandem with the distraction if you can’t boot it entirely.
And so we arrive at the biggest workplace distraction of them all. Email. E-mail. e mail. However you stylize it, however many times you say it, it won’t change the fact that it is the biggest disrupter of the average working day. Although most businesses can’t function without it, email has the potential to engulf your working day and every other responsibility with it when not used efficiently.
From checking it once or twice a day to turning off notifications completely and ‘going dark’ – having some time apart from your email is actually healthy (believe me!). Try it out… then send out an all staff email about how well it worked (one that’s not distracting one of course!).
Curbing distractions in the workplace
Addressing some of the biggest hitters of office distractions should help to boost your productivity. It’s no magic pill, but having some self-control, staying unplugged and focussing on one thing at a time should help to ensure being distracted at work becomes a thing of the past.
But seriously, get back to work.