When left unchecked, workplace distractions can ruin your productivity. From social media, emails, to chatty co-workers, there are different ways you can get interrupted when completing tasks. We must eliminate these distractions to stay productive at work. This article will show you how.
Whether you’re working in an office or remotely at home, you might have experienced all types of work distractions imaginable. It can be a barrage of phone notifications, urgent team meetings, or a tempting Buzzfeed quiz that reveals your personality type.
Yes, it’s a universal challenge to focus and stay productive in this day and age. According to RescueTime, 51.5% of their surveyed users admitted they are frequently interrupted throughout the day—with face-to-face interruptions as the most common and distracting of all.
Workplace distractions can negatively impact a worker’s ability to perform well, stay productive, and reach their full potential. To be successful at work, don’t just focus on what you’re doing, but also be mindful of what you shouldn’t be doing.
How do you do just that? You can start by identifying these distracting things. Once you know what these distractions are, create a strategy to eliminate them ASAP.
Top Workplace Distractions
Imagine working on a full-time project with a team in an open-office environment. This will most likely be a normal scenario: a co-worker tapping you on the shoulder for a “quick question” opening a torrent of unread emails while multitasking on Slack notifications, or the horrors of working next to a room with an office party going on. Once everything’s settled, you realize you only have two hours left to do actual work.
Such is the normal struggles of ordinary workers. It’s obvious that interruptions like these (while harmless in small doses) can negatively impact our productivity in the long-term.
Fortunately, there are ways to minimize workplace distractions. Here are the common productivity killers and practical tips to combat them. Let’s get started.
Who can’t resist watching funny YouTube videos on your phone? Or reading comments on Instagram for that beach photo you posted?
We use our phones for almost everything. Besides texting and calling, we also use it to create a to-do list and check planners among others. It’s no surprise why smartphones are addicting and considered the biggest work distraction.
If you need to reduce your reliance on your smartphone, you can put it on Airplane mode or enable the Do Not Disturb option on your phone’s settings. This can block notifications, calls, and alerts from emitting light, sounds, and vibrations. This is available both on Android and iPhones.
Take it to another level and put your phone inside a locker or in another room where you won’t get distracted.
But, if you need it for work but you don’t want to get sidetracked, consider using app blockers. Your phone’s settings might already have one, if not, install app blockers like AppBlock. It can block apps like social media or shopping apps (and websites) for a specific time or day of the week.
Yes, we’ve all met them (or we could be them at some point in our working lives). While building meaningful connections at work is ideal, not knowing your boundaries will keep you from getting things done.
It can be extra difficult if you’re in an open-office setting. Since there are no doors or walls to separate employees, anyone can pop in at your desk to ask questions or gossip around.
To fix this problem, say that you can’t engage in conversations now, but you’ll catch up with them later at lunch break. You can also send a sign that you don’t want to be disturbed by wearing headphones.
If you have an office door, close them and put a “Do not Disturb” sign. For a persistently chatty neighbor, try sending a discrete conversation about this or raise this concern to your supervisor.
While meetings are important to discuss ideas, foster collaboration, address problems and provide solutions, there’s no denying that they are often time-sucking and overwhelming.
In a survey, 65% of the senior managers believe that meetings keep them from finishing their work. So much time is wasted when members are pulled away from their work to sit into meetings that they shouldn’t be part of.
Before planning on a meeting, think if it’s necessary to have one in the first place. If you can, skip the meeting and communicate updates and other concerns through email, Slack message or project management tools like Asana or Trello.
If a meeting is necessary, make sure to set a clear agenda, be on time, keep it short, do it standing up and only invite critical stakeholders.
Some might think that the more tasks we can do at once, the more productive we are. The reality is that our brains can’t handle multiple tasks simultaneously and results show that we are bad at it.
Multitasking can slow us down, leave us confused, and ultimately, make us less productive. To ensure that you focus on one task at a time, identify a task that you need to prioritize on.
When working on a task or project, work in time blocks and don’t allow any distractions to get in the way of your focus. Once every time block is done, have a break, then start on another time block.
Many go through their to-do list for the day to tick off the boxes one by one. While focusing on a project at hand, an email notification pops up. This time, you can choose to stop what you’re doing and read this email or let it wait and continue working.
This scenario is all too familiar. It makes us feel busy even if the emails are trivial and don’t add any value to your tasks.
To prevent you from getting hooked in an email loophole, set a time block for focused work and don’t check emails during this period. Let these emails accumulate and only answer them when you’re ready.
Create a reminder to check emails, at least 2-3 times a day. Maybe in the morning, lunch, or an hour before you leave the office.
Processing emails by batches takes less time than answering them one at a time. Also, it allows you to stay focused and prioritize the tasks that need to be done.
A little clutter now and then won’t hurt. Studies have shown that some may support creativity. However, constantly having a messy desk can disturb your ability to stay focused and efficient.
To fix this, simply declutter and organize your workspace. Throw away things that you don’t need or use. File all your documents in a folder inside a cabinet or drawer.
If there’s not enough at your desk, save copies of your files in the cloud and ensure that you have enough storage space to keep them there.
Clean your desk at least once a week; do this on Friday before you clock out of the office or on Monday morning before you start the workweek.
Eliminate Workplace Distractions and Boost your Productivity!
Workplace distractions are here to stay, whether we like them or not. Instead of allowing it to affect our lofty attempts at productivity, we should simply avoid them as much as possible.
By following the tips here, you can be effective and let your creativity shine through without interruptions. It’s important to know what is distracting us and build a plan to combat them.
At Full Scale, we bring productivity to a whole new level. We help our clients assemble their software teams quickly and affordably. This allows you to focus on what matters—scaling the business and creating value for customers.