Regardless of the industry you work in, distractions in the workplace is something we’ve all experienced and had to deal with. These common interruptions can pull us away from a deadline, throw a wrench in our motivation, and make it appear like we’re not fully focused.
Considering more people are working remotely due to the pandemic, it’s important to identify common workplace distractions in order to know how to handle them when they arise. This post will address four distractions, and tactics on how to work around them.
Your smart phone
There are billions of smart phone users in the world, and for good reason; smart phones allow us to access just about anything any time we want to. When your mind starts to wander, it’s natural to grab your phone for entertainment.
Try putting your phone outside of arms reach so you can focus on work – in your backpack, inside a desk drawer, or if you’re working from home, leave it upstairs. In some cases, removing the distraction completely (out of sight, out of mind) is enough to help you focus.
Often tied into smart phone usage, social media consumption is a main distraction that can pull you away from your responsibilities. On average, a social media user spends 2 hours and 24 minutes per day browsing sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Many companies don’t allow social media usage during the workday and ignoring that rule could lead to disciplinary action. Refrain from checking up on your profiles until your dedicated lunch hour or break, or once you’re home for the day.
Friends + coworkers
Strong bonds with like-minded people help us stay happy and be successful, especially in the workplace. But close friendships with colleagues may lead to distracting conversations in times when it’s detrimental, like when you’re trying to accomplish a task.
There are a couple ways to set boundaries so coworkers know when it’s an appropriate time to chat and when it isn’t. If your company uses a messaging software like Microsoft Teams or Slack, you can set your status to away or unavailable, signaling that you’re busy. You could also place a physical sign on your desk that indicates if you’re available or not. Or, try moving to a more private space when you want to get some distraction-free work done.
For those of us that sit at a desk for most of the day, by the afternoon it can be difficult to pay attention if you’re feeling restless. Schedule time throughout your day to get up, stretch, and take a walk, whether it’s through your office or around the block. Experts suggest moving for about 10 minutes out of every hour can ease restlessness and decrease your chance of health problems linked to sedentary lifestyles.
Overall, it’s unrealistic to think that you are going to work for the entire duration of your shift/day without stopping – so schedule in a couple breaks where you can chat with a friend or let your brain take a break. When trying to minimize workplace distractions, there’s one key factor to remember: we’re all prone to being distracted (some more than others), and there’s no reason to feel bad about it or let minor interruptions derail your day.