Overcoming distractions at work is a challenge due to instant messaging, email notifications, and unexpected phone calls. Constantly checking to see if there is something important to do can greatly impact on your productivity at work. There is also the temptation to start browsing social media, the Internet or get distracted while researching a subject.
There are also other distractions at work that may not be apparently obvious. For example, meetings could be disrupted by small talk or late arrivals. New technology at work could fail causing you connectivity problems. Or, there could be work, family, or personal issues that are on your mind and affect your levels of concentration.
It seems that distractions are now impossible to avoid. It could also be an impossible and time-consuming task to try to stop all disruptions at work. So, what can you do if you feel that workplace distractions are impacting on your efficiency?
You will learn about 5 ways to help and overcome some of the most common interruptions that take place at work. First of all, it’s important to know how distractions can affect you at work.
Some distractions are inevitable at work; however, the increase in collaboration, conducting real-time business, and requirements to be more responsive put their toll on your ability to concentrate fully.
A 2018 survey on the effects of workplace distraction found that nearly 70% of employees feel distracted at work. The impact of distractions also affects how productive employees can be. It was estimated that nearly 40% of the workday is spent dealing with non-productive tasks (i.e., distractions). The survey found that this leads to lost revenue and a decrease in employee job satisfaction.
The survey recommended that to avoid the negative impact of workplace distractions, employers train staff to use available tools efficiently and improve time management skills.
Let’s look at some of the best ways to deal with workplace distractions to effectively use your time at work.
Your top priority should be to limit distractions to as few as possible throughout the day. The most obvious tip to prevent being distracted is to turn off instant notifications on your computer and smartphone. This will help you to work longer without being unnecessarily distracted.
If you work in an open office environment, then using noise-cancelling headphones can help to avoid distractions from others in the office. It may also prevent other employees from needlessly interrupting you.
How can you deal with important messages throughout the day if your instant messaging is turned off? The next tip for avoiding distractions will help you with that.
One way to help keep your mind focused to eliminate distractions is to give yourself less time to complete a task. Having an ‘artificial’ deadline in mind will help you get your job done with minimal distractions. This will help to avoid the tendency to stretch out the job to the given timeframe and fill up gaps with needless distractions.
You could also try breaking up your work time into segments throughout the day. For example, you could work solidly for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. You can then use this time to check on emails or even browse social media.
To help focus your mind and prevent being distracted, it is also important to avoid a messy desk. There is actually some truth in the saying: ‘a cluttered desk will result in a cluttered mind’. Working in a clutter-free environment has a few benefits:
Try to always work on just one task at a time and give your undivided attention to the task at hand. Multitasking is like being a ‘jack of all trades and a master of none’. So, if you have a to take an important call while working on a spreadsheet, stop what you are doing and focus on the call.
Making a list of priorities for your day can help to give your mind focus and give your undivided attention to that important task.
Apart from outside factors at work such deadlines, instant notifications, and prioritizing, you also need to prevent stress from causing distractions. Stress can drain you emotionally and prevent you from being able to focus well at work. Usually, when you are feeling the effects of stress, your mind wanders and it can be difficult to collect your thoughts.
Of course, dealing with stress at work is the subject of another article. However, getting enough sleep, enjoying a healthy diet, and taking time out to relax can all help to reduce workplace anxiety.