The work environment contains a host of distractions which can negatively impact your work performance and productivity. When you get distracted from a task or project your mind can up to 25 minutes to refocus. It is important to recognise the most common distractions in your workday and to eliminate them where possible. Here we have listed the most common distractions to be aware of with tips on how to look past them and retain focus.
Email Overload – Consider Batching
Ever considered working offline for a period during the day? Think about every time an email comes through, with every email you receive, it requires you to choose whether to open it or ignore it. Having to constantly open emails that contribute nothing to your workday is distracting and a waste of time.
If you find you are being swamped by excessive emails, you can try working offline for a fixed period and allow your emails to accumulate. Then respond to them in a batch format twice or three times a day, reducing their intrusive impact on productivity. Create a habit by sticking to those times.
Office Noise Space – Adjust your Environment
Research from the University of Sydney has revealed repeated links to office noise and reduced cognitive performance. The most distracting of these office noises was found to be conversational noise (so that chatty person in the office may just be affecting your productivity after all!).
Lessen the disruptions by finding a quieter and more private area to work from. Relocate to a break out space, a phone booth or try noise blocking headphones like these. Ultimate solution – try asking your boss if you can take a day each week or month in a flexible workspace space where piece and quiet are part of the culture. (In the UK there is a statutory right to a certain level of flexible working but no such legislation exists in Ireland where flexible working is at the option of the employer). Many flexible and coworking spaces offer a quiet room as part of the service.
Smartphones Usage – Engage Your Inner Self Discipline
A recent survey conducted by Deloitte found that Irish smartphone users check their mobile phones at least 55 times a day. While 13% of those in the survey admitted that they checked their phones over 100 times per day, that breaks down to just over 6 times per hour during waking hours. This doesn’t come as a surprise considering daily emails, messages, social media notifications, phone calls and calendar to do lists.
To prevent smartphone usage becoming an issue during work hours, schedule specific times throughout the day for phone usage while keeping your phone on silent and out of sight to allow you to focus and be self-disciplined by setting designated times to check your device.
Surfing Social Media – Turn Off Notifications
We have never been more connected, having our social media accounts so accessible through apps on our phones means there is a steady stream of notifications alerting us throughout the day. This is creating a culture of people that find it very difficult to disconnect as fear of missing out (“FOMO”) or the anticipation of getting tagged, mentioned or messaged is front of mind.
To try and combat this, try turning off notification for your most addictive apps and place your phone in a drawer or bag, out of sight so you are not tempted to check on the fly.