7 workplace distractions and how to tackle them

Distraction is the enemy of creativity — Jocelyn Glei

What are your biggest distractors?

On average, we check our phones 5 times an hour! 5 times! Meaning that by the time you’ve read this, you’ll probably feel a strong urge to check your phone.

Before we dive in, think about what distractions you have on a daily basis.

By this we mean, anything that can pull your attention away from the task you should be doing.

To do this, all you need is a piece of paper and a pen, simply jot down all your biggest distractions and think about what steps you could do to solve them.

Below is a list of some of the most common distractions in the workplace (sorry if we’ve just added some new ones to your list!!!)

EMAILS

Working in an office, it’s easy to get distracted by the continuous stream of emails that find their way into your inbox. They can often feel urgent, especially when someone is chasing constantly chasing you, but there are only so many hours in the day and it’s about using that time to be the most productive.

TEXTS

That vibration from your mobile is SUPER distracting. And you must reply “😂😂”. You can’t seem rude. So, to avoid the temptation, we suggest putting your phone on silent when you’re trying to focus. Where was I? …..sorry, I was replying to a text.

PEOPLE

Sometimes conversations about love island or the walking dead are just far too tempting. Maybe you sit near the coffee station and no matter how much you try to display the fact you are trying to concentrate – you know what I mean, lowering your seat as much as possible, hiding behind your screen with headphones in – you always get chatty Charlie trying to grab your attention just to ask “do you have a minute”. Clearly not Charlie, I guess next time I will just sit under my desk.

SOCIAL MEDIA

There’s nothing more satisfying than sending a quick message of a random thought and getting the acknowledgement from your peers that you are not alone in dipping your croissant in that hot chocolate you just bought before getting on the train to work. Where Twitter provides the unique opportunity to keep up to date with what’s trending, so when you sit down to play the big fat quiz of 2018, with your children, you have all the answers. Instagram is a neat little app that will make you wish you had taken a gap year and travelled the world or become a Michelin star chef. Who knows, you could have been a full-time traveller taking photos of yourself and your food with a bunch of random strangers you met at a late-night noodle bar.

And if you’re into beautiful, colourful arrangements of stationery, well you’re just going to have to keep checking..

COFFEE BREAKS

It’s all too tempting, that distant call of ‘brew anyone?’, almost like the school bell for break. Providing the opportunity to chat about the pointless tv you watched last night or the news about the dancing penguin who’s received a scholarship to Harvard.

Nothing beats a chinwag and a chat.

LAST MINUTE MEETINGS

Some days you may be in meetings for more than 60% of your day. Often these meeting are spread through the day meaning that just as you’re finished in one meeting, you’re hurled straight into the next.

Then at 10 am good old Henry throws in a last-minute meeting, which you “MUST” attend. Great, thanks, Henry.

MEDIUM (here’s a new one for you!)

The one stop shop for all things. That’s it. Medium is a website consisting of user-generated content on pretty much anything.

Whether it be “Dumb Rules that Make Your Best People Want to Quit” or “What a Secret Agent Grandmother had to Teach Her Grandson”.

Only you know all the ‘topics you care most about’.

So now we’ve caused you even more trouble than you already had, here are some suggestions to clear your mind and create the ultimate focus.

8 effective ways to handle distractions

An alcoholic’s solution isn’t to completely remove themselves from environments with alcohol. Why?

Because simply trying to ignore distractions isn’t going to remove them entirely.

It’s important to realise that the problem is not the distraction. The problem starts with you.

You see, distractions will always be there. It’s you that chooses to embrace the distraction and surrender to it.

So, what can you do to take control?

SOME PRACTICAL TIPS…

Plan your breaks.

Avoid impromptu breaks.

Instead set aside 5 minutes breaks through the day specially to refresh.

Maybe leave your desk and go for a little walk, this will help boost your energy, give your eyes a rest, meaning you return to

the task with more motivation.

Set aside email-exclusive time

Don’t let your inbox control you, control your inbox.

  1. Schedule specific time each day, to work through that stack of emails. Turn those emails into a to-do list (this allows you to schedule your time around the tasks that you must complete – check out todoist.com).

  2. Choose to check emails in your lower ‘productivity time’. For some this is first thing, for others this is often after lunch. Use this time to sort through your emails and organise your day (or the next day – depending which time you do this).

Music (and headphones)

It’s far too easy to overhear Sandra explaining the complication of her niece’s, dog’s love life. Without realising you’re drawn in. Music (or just the headphones) can be the answer.

Not everyone likes listening to music while working, despite the evidence that classical music can boost positivity. However, simply popping your headphones in is a simple way of showing you don’t want to be interrupted, after all, no one will know you’re not listening to anything.

On the other hand, you may be like Gwil, who loves nothing more than blasting Blue Mondays by New Order to get himself “pumped” and ”in the zone”. Music can be the best method for entering a state of flow .

Be honest or crazy (crazy works best)

Next time someone tries to disturb you at your desk simply say “sorry, I’m really focused on this right now and I don’t want to lose concentration, can I get back to you?”.

If that doesn’t work just scream*, we can almost guarantee you won’t be disturbed again.

*we recommend adding emphasis to the scream by waving your arms in the air.

Heyfocus

Are you a social media addict? Do random thoughts pop into your head (such as, do male cats have nipples?) that make you quickly google for clarification? Perhaps you’re just checking that other people also have such weird thoughts… whatever it is; if it feels like it’s getting in the way of productivity, download Heyfocus.

It won’t cost you anything, and you can use it to block apps and distracting websites. If you wanted to go so far as to make a web browser unavailable to you for a certain period of time, you can do that too.

(Male cats do have nipples.)

TAKE CARE OF YOU….

Ensure you get enough sleep

We know this is easier said than done, but getting the right amount of sleep is key to stopping yourself from getting distracted.

You don’t always have to follow the standard 7-9 hours of sleep. There is a reason some people are described as “early birds and night owls”. Heading to bed a 9 pm and getting up at 5 am isn’t suited to everyone. Instead, find the right amount of sleep you need, and the optimal time to go to bed and wake up. (Just avoid becoming nocturnal).

Sleep tracking apps such as pzizz can really help you define your optimal sleep pattern – and it’s available on both Android and IOS.

Drink water

Your brain is made up of 75% water, so drinking more water gives your brain more fuel to operate on.

If you’re anything like anyone at Diagnostax, snacks play a huge part of the day. But instead of deciding which crisps to eat or heading to the kitchen to grab a banana; drinking water can suppress your appetite.

Make sure you always have a bottle of water near you, you can even add a bit of lemon, mint, ginger and cucumbers if you want to add spices up your metabolism and raise the level of anti-oxidants. Ooo fancy!

Only drink coffee strategically

Coffee shouldn’t really be consumed on a regular basis, to boost productivity. The reason being; your body adapts to how much caffeine you regularly consume.

Avoid adding heaps of sugar to your coffee, as a sugar/caffeine crash can lead to a lack of concentration later in the day.

So, there you have it, 7 super annoying workplace distractions, but 8 awesomely effective ways to address!

If you found this useful, you might also like, to read our Top Tools for Every Entrepreneurial Accountant.

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