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How to Avoid Distractions in the Workplace

Workplace Distractions Probably Includes This Blog!

The list of distractions in the workplace is not long, but our time indulging them most definitely is. A massive 64% per cent of us have admitted to using the internet for personal use at work. Unrestricted access to the web is a hard diversion to avoid and most people in a survey for salary.com, an American website, admitted to wasting between two and 10 hours a week on personal internet usage. Unsurprisingly, Facebook was the most visited site. LinkedIn came in second (which should potentially be, even more, worrying for employers!).

The issue of web browsing at work to this degree has spawned an entire industry of internet blocking tools that employers are having to invest in more and more to keep their employees focused. The need to browse the web is a borderline addiction. Some of the software programs are so intuitive that if you attempt to adjust them to give yourself more time or try to visit sites before you are allowed, they will immediately launch code that will ban you from certain sites for 30 days or longer.

distractions in the workplace

It Is Not Just the Internet

The list of other potential workplace distractions is quite comprehensive. Coffee breaks, text messages, co-workers, personal issues – all these things, or just one of them, can take you away from the task at hand and drag your productivity down.

The first step in recognising there is a problem is noticing the distraction that affects you the most. If, like most workers, it is the internet, then make a concerted decision to limit your time on it. There is probably no use in ‘going cold turkey’ as this will inevitably fail. But if your employer has not put in a blocker, then you have to rely on your own resilience to limit your personal web-browsing time. Give yourself, initially, just five minutes per hour to check personal emails, Facebook etc.

For one thing, if you drastically cut down your time, you will not feel so guilty about it, and secondly, you may just find that you do not need to be constantly checking your status. Concurrent with this, is the matter of your phone. Get in the habit of putting on aeroplane mode or even turning it off at work. At the very least, put it on silent and put it in your drawer or bag, out of sight and out of hearing distance. Again, check it every hour briefly, but try to forget about it. If you think this is a radical notion, maybe you’re more easily distracted than you imagined.

distractions in the workplace

Your Value System

A lot of this new mindset comes down to your value system and reminding yourself constantly of why you here, in this role, in this company. You probably fought hard to be there, so do not jeopardise your future for the sake of a cat meme or a holiday confirmation email. Just remember, there is a long queue of people just waiting in line to be seated where you right now.

It Is Even Harder Working from Home

Those who work from home reading this will probably find all of the above distractions quite amusing when faced with the endless interruptions they face in their situation. To a great degree, working from home helps you take control of your work environment. There are no talkative colleagues, pop-up meetings, or background white noise and movement. But working successfully from home can mean setting realistic expectations and dealing with distractions that may come up.

The advantages of working from home are endless. Many people say they do so because of home commitments. But these very commitments can be the most distracting; school pickups, pets, childcare, housework all impinge on your working day.

The ever-present internet is also a major distraction. So, the answer lies within you. And that means being even more focussed than your traditional office-bound counterparts. Try to get all household chores done before you start work. Plan your breaks around school pickups, answer all emails in one, turn off Facebook (yes, really), and resist the urge to work in your pyjama’s – if you blur the lines between home life and work life, you are much more likely to succumb to the distractions that come along with it.

distractions in the workplace

Summary

Distractions in the workplace usually stem from low attention spans. But if the reason you find yourself distracted at work is that you are bored or do not feel challenged, the solution is even easier – ask your manager to give you more work. Most will be happy to help!

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