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7 of the biggest workplace distractions and how to avoid them

Two women working at the computerFor most of us, the slightest interruptions at work can pose the biggest of distractions – bringing all productivity to a crashing halt. Of course, there are the fortunate few who can block out everything around them and take such distractions in their stride.

However, the majority will find that the most innocent of annoyances can prevent you from getting your work done on time – leading to more stress for you and those around you, consequently developing a largely frustrated and unhappy workplace.

Naturally, nobody is completely attentive to their work 100% of the time, so learning how to avoid or ignore these principal workplace distractions is key when it comes to boosting your productivity levels.

1. Feeling sleepy

Fatigue and apathy will not only be a distraction (as will your grumpiness), but will also seriously hinder your quality of output.

Avoid: Do your best to get a good night’s sleep on a Sunday (providing your working week starts on a Monday) and avoid the temptation of a late night movie or 2am quiz shows.

That way, fighting to keep your eyes open won’t get in the way of those pressing tasks that await you – ensuring you’re alert and on-the-ball for the working day ahead.

2. Music

Listening to music can make the day go faster and makes the work more manageable (well that’s the idea, anyway). But this can also create more potential for error given that it can lead our concentration astray.

Avoid: If you have a job which requires your undivided attention, then the simple solution is not to listen to music at all, at least not directly in your ears. The more sensible solution, however, is to setup a radio in the workplace at an audible yet discreet level of volume that can provide a soothing background noise while failing to distract you from the task in hand.

3. Office gossip

Who doesn’t like a good gossip at work? Consequently, you’ll find the odd natter between colleagues is one of the most common distractions and a pretty difficult one to avoid.

Avoid: When a workmate comes over and wants a chat or a spontaneous conversation breaks out around you regarding last night’s TV or the big game, it’s almost impolite to opt out.

So if you’re in the middle of an important task or project, pop in those headphones (yes, the same ones we just told you not to use) – and swerve those office chit-chats that be so time consuming!

4. Phone Calls

Some days it feels like the phone just never stops ringing, preventing you from getting on with those tasks that you haven’t got round to doing in days.

Avoid: Obviously a distraction like this depends on your job (especially if you work on a switchboard or in a call centre!). But the trick here is to allocate yourself time throughout the day to deal with those urgent, and not so urgent calls.

Put your answer machine on and get back to them when you have more time. Let’s face it, that’s what we used to do before the age of mobile phones.

5. The World Wide Web

Arguably the biggest distraction in any workplace – but something that is so hard to avoid given that it is so prevalent in so many jobs!

Nearly all of us use the internet in the workplace in some form or another, and most of the time it’s probably not work related.

Avoid: The resolution, again, is time management and discipline (plenty of discipline!). The key here is to reward yourself for completing tasks. So, for every sizeable task completed, offer yourself five to 10 minutes of net surfing and social media interaction. This way you feel the fulfilment of completing your work while avoiding the drag of three to four hours of uninterrupted effort.

6. Television

It’s pretty cool to work somewhere with a TV on, but it can provide a heck of a distraction if you’re not careful.

Unless the television is there for a particular reason it’s often the case that workers become transfixed by it, waiting to see the latest share prices or the weather forecast that hasn’t changed in the last two hours.

Avoid: If you’re going to have a TV in the office maybe consider using it sparingly (at lunch times, perhaps?) or with the sound turned down, but that’s only if you must.

7. Text messages and other alerts

It may seem like your connection with the outside world, but sending texts can be more distracting than you think.

If you find yourself typing on your phone more than your keyboard; then taking note of point five could be applicable here.

Avoid: However, there is another genius way of avoiding the temptation of replying to text messages and other phone-based notifications. Simply, turn your phone face down on the desk. Yes, that’s right. You won’t be immediately distracted by pop-ups on screen and you can dedicate time to your phone at allotted times in the day.


About the Author

Contributing on behalf of CTL Digital Solutions, Matthew Crist – a self-confessed “man about town” – is a copywriter with vast experience in contributing for a number of established media outlets.

Image: © omicron – Fotolia.com

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