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Four Ways to Avoid Distractions at Work

Sometimes the place where we’re supposed to focus on work creates irritating distractions. Offices offer plenty of opportunities to become distracted, and if you cannot stay on task due to frequent interruptions then your workload drops and deadlines are missed. Distractions are not just an inconvenience; teammates and management will soon notice any drop in quality and quantity.

The distraction might come from a colleague in the next cubicle who always talks animatedly on the phone or an admin assistant who punches away at the keyboards for maximum sound and effort. Whatever the distraction may be, you don’t want to let it derail your work output. So, if you want some help filtering out the distractions in your work environment, check the suggestions below:

Make a plan

Before you go to the office, come up with an outline of what you want to achieve during the day. Get into a routine of developing a brief plan the night before. A plan, or to-do list, helps you start the day, and avoids the common distractions. Your mind is already focused on your first task, saves time spent prioritizing activities once in the office, and reduces the chance of being roped into needless chores or meetings.

Don’t multitask

Despite what other people claim, humans aren’t designed to multitask. If you try to multitask you’ll set yourself up to becoming distracted. That’s because when you try to take on more than one task you’ll lose focus on one detail. Your mind will take time to refocus, and is more likely to wander onto other subjects and tasks. Instead, make a list of the tasks you’re supposed to take care of for the day and focus on each task one by one.

Break down huge tasks

Another reason people become distracted is when a large task has so many components that it becomes difficult to identify where to begin. When trying to find a starting point, the different aspects may be overbearing as the mind considers different scenarios and more complex solutions. Eventually, you’ll become distracted or put off the task for another day. By breaking down the task into more manageable activities, you will be able to prioritize work and identify other tasks not previously apparent. For example, to develop a work schedule, you may need input from a different department you had not previously considered.

Put up barriers

Another way to prevent distractions is to erect a barrier between you and the cause. For example, a lot of companies are still using open-plan office layouts. Although an open plan office is supposed to promote teamwork and creativity, surveys show that they limit face-to-face interaction and collaboration, and decrease productivity. Going back to more traditional office layouts may not be feasible, so buying office screens to provide cubicles give employees some privacy and a reduction in distractions.

Open-plan offices suit some professions but a balance is required to allow both collaboration and concentration; interaction and independence. By adjusting the work environment to accommodate staff needs, distractions are reduced to make morale and productivity improve.

Photo by Charlz Gutiérrez De Piñeres on Unsplash

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