Workplace distractions can leave you feeling stressed, exhausted, and overworked. You’ve been hopeful for a raise but you know that your boss has noticed that your performance and behavior is not up to your usual standards.
Focusing used to be a lot easier but as time goes on you let “all the things” stand in the way of your successful career. You know that you need to focus, eat nutritious foods, and stop talking excessively to your co-workers. Are you ready to put the distractions to rest once and for all so that you can confidently ask for the promotion you’ve been eyeing?
Here’s the deal, you’ll always have a person at work that talks way to much, endless emails, phones ringing, and a sense of urgency for everything except for what you need to be doing.
Imagine if you have had fewer distractions and you were able to focus on your priorities. I’ve identified the major 15 distractions but even better we will talk about about how you can fix these issues so that your productivity will skyrocket.
1. Frequently checking emails
Emails are widely used and a mainstream way of communication in the workplace. They are also constantly being sent at random times throughout the day. Your initial to do list will be derailed time and time again when you constantly check your email.
Set a time to check your work emails or you’ll always be at the mercy of someone’s else’s sense of urgency.
Some jobs’ daily work flow comes directly via email and that is fine but for the rest of us, checking your email 3 times a day should be plenty.
Check emails about 2 hours after you’ve arrived to work, after lunch, and about 1 hour before you leave for the day.
These time frames will give you time to tackle any new tasks that have come in through your email. It will also put an end to constantly refreshing your inbox.
2. Instant message apps such as Slack
The sense of urgency increases tenfold with apps like Slack if you are not careful.
Let’s be clear, the need for quick efficient communication is ever present. This app has great advantages when used effectively. However, if it holds your time hostage with ongoing discussions, then limitations need to set in place.
Set boundaries around the use of Slack. Make sure your office knows that you have a time to be offline and shouldn’t be expected to respond in Slack during that time.
3. Phone calls
Constantly answering phone calls puts a drag on productivity. They ring to no end and it will never stop unless boundaries are created.
Do this instead:
Once you have answered a phone call at work, take a message and clearly communicate with the other person that you will make note of the request now but respond back to them at a designated time.
The second thing that can be implemented is to set a voicemail for times that you are away from your desk answering the most commonly asked questions and directing all non urgent communication from coworkers to email communication that will be checked at a designated time. This will only work for in house calls.
Over time, you will train your co workers to email you instead of constantly ringing your work phone.
4. Helping coworkers
There is no “I” in team but at some point we have to get our own work done!
There are times when we must rally to the cause to get everything done on big projects. Then there are times when you know that your coworker essentially plans to put as much work on your virtual plate as you will allow them to place on there.
Be consistent with communicating that you need to complete your work first. Once your work is done you will be glad to help.
5. Talking to your co workers
A chatty Kathy (or Charles) can be found in every establishment of moderate size, what befuddles me is when they refuse to know that their relentless chatter is decreasing your productivity.
Maybe the very brief hall or cubicle talk makes your day, but incessant chatter undoubtedly decreases your productivity.
If you have an office door, close it. If not, when your co worker attempts to chat, ask them if it can wait until you get done with your work.
Sometimes they still won’t get it! In that case, return to your work, and tell them that you really want to start putting a better effort into staying on task and ask them if they can hold you accountable.
6. Messy work area
A neatly organized work area can save you a ton of time. According to Reliable Plant, studies have shown that the average person wastes 4.3 hours per week searching for papers, which adds stress and frustration to the workplace while reducing concentration and creative thinking.
Take the time to label folders or bins to optimize your day to day tasks. Labels such as “to do,” “follow up later,” will be beneficial in increasing your productivity.
File papers away in their respective places as soon as you are done with them.
7. Lack of prioritization
Lack of priorities is a productivity killer. If you don’t know where to start, how can you ever start producing results? Develop a game plan for being productive as soon as you enter work.
Plan your work day out the day prior to increase productivity.
Create a mini to-do list that includes the tasks that you’ll work on as soon as you arrive at work.
Clean your desk off prior to leaving and be prepared to jump in as soon as you return to work.
Procrastination is a case of putting things off until the last minute in favor of doing absolutely nothing or some other task that is not getting you closer to completing your goals.
Celestine points out the importance of breaking your action steps down into doable goals and then taking action.
Lifehack’s CEO also has great advice on this:
Meetings are essential but are notorious for being a waste of time.
Create clear goals and have agenda for the meeting. Start the meeting on time and end it on time. Stick to the topics of the meeting in order to get the most value out of the time spent.
Also check out these 12 Secrets To a Super Productive Meeting You Should Know.
10. Office noise
Office noise can come from many sources. The number one distraction is noise from other humans.
Offices can get really loud when iTunes compete for air space (at least use your earbuds people), your co-workers yell to people across the room, talk to themselves, chew gum loudly (why is this allowed), and phone conversations are taking place – seemingly all at once.
Closing your door, if you have one, works well in this case. If not, talking to you co worker about their habits will be best.
Start by scheduling some time to talk to your co worker. Ask them if there are any behaviors that you display that are distracting to them.
Thank them for pointing out any of your behaviors. Then assert that you would like to do the same. This may seem a bit uncomfortable but share your concerns in a nice way and hopefully office noise will improve.
11. Constantly checking social media
According to Pew, the average American uses at least three social platforms. While the exact percentages vary by age, 51% of Facebook users stated they visit the site several times a day. 40% of the user stated that it would be hard to give it up.
Use your personal social platforms on your break or at lunch. You can try this 20-second rule to get rid of distractions or take these steps to disconnect from social media:
Most Americans become bored at their job from citing issues such as mundane tasks, lack of opportunity for advancement, and loss of motivation in general.
Choose to think new thoughts and decide to take action to increase your productivity. List three things in your life that are possible because of your job.
But most importantly, find out the real reason why you feel bored at work:
Studies have shown that multitasking on complex test decrease efficiency and productivity significantly. Our brains do not complete tasks simultaneously but rather switches tasks and the start/stop/start process is a real energy drain.
Prioritize your tasks based on deadlines or urgency then focus on one task until it is complete so that you will become more efficient. This guide will help you stop multitasking to boost productivity:
Workplace celebrations are often accompanied by food. These activities include baby shower, promotions, retirement parties. The sugary processed snacks or not the most ideal sources of nutrition.
Washington post gathered data from The Centers for Disease Control which found that adults consume nearly 1300 calories per week from food and beverage that they got at work. Naturally we want to be acknowledged and celebrated here and there but hanging out at the party can take time from tasks that you have been putting off.
Congratulate the person that is being celebrated. Choose the healthiest food options (or a small amount of indulgent food), and get back to work:
15. Workplace bullying
Statistics from Workplace Bullying Institute report that bullying is present in today’s workplace and an alarming 72% of employers denied, discount, encourage, rationalize, or defend it.
Bullying can be verbal and constant. Therefore it may be harder to prove without the support of coworkers that have witnessed it. This behavior is completely distracting and stressful.
Document instances of bullying. Seek the support of a trusted coworker. Report the accounts of bullying to the proper authorities.
In most cases, this can be disclosed in human resources departments.
The bottom line
Workplace distractions will never go away. In order use our time effectively we must set up a system and boundaries to be more effective. I have given you 15 solutions to workplace distractions. Implementing as many as possible will be a game changer for you and you will be confident when you ask for your next raise.
How you you react the next time you are distracted at work?
Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com
|||^||Reliable Plant: Reduce office clutter to increase productivity, efficiency and profitability|
|||^||NPR: What’s More Distracting Than A Noisy Co-Worker? Turns Out, Not Much|
|||^||Pew: Social Media Use in 2018|
|||^||Washington Post: Why you should probably stop snacking at work|
|||^||Workplace Bullying Institute: 2014 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey|