Dealing with Distractions in the Workplace

Dealing with Distractions in the Workplace

Distractions are a normal part of any workplace, but distracted workers are not as productive, careful or attentive. Technology is largely to blame for unwanted interruptions and decreased productivity as constant emails, telephone calls, and instant messages inhibit you from getting your work done. Learning how to deal with these common workplace distractions will help you get ahead at work.

Write out a daily task list and plan your day. There’s nothing like a task list sitting next to you to keep you focused. When you have a list of the things you need to accomplish in a day, having that close to you constantly reminding you of what needs to be done is a great way of keeping on track.

Turn off alerts. Email and instant message alerts are one of the biggest causes of interruptions. One study found that 71% of people answer IM alerts within 2 seconds, and 41% of people respond to email alerts within 15 seconds. Turning these off will do wonders for productivity.

Setup filters in your email. If you spend a lot of your time communicating and planning in front of your computer, chances are you deal with emails on a frequent basis. Setting up filters in your email client can be a great way of sorting out what’s important and what can wait. Instead of dealing with a single inbox with hundreds of unread email, now you have smaller folders categorized by project, priority and context.

Allocate time slots colleagues can interrupt you. In a busy work place, people are moving and talking all the time. If you play a role in a team where others need to interact with you, try allocating a time slot when they can interrupt you. Instead of having people stop by your desk every 10 minutes, let them know of a time in the day you can be interrupted. At all other times, you can really get some work done.

Off-site, out of mind. If you have work that requires deep thought or creativity, like writing or coming up with new ideas, find a quiet place outside the office, like a library or study, where there are fewer distractions.

Be “alone in the crowd.” Find a way to shut out the world in crowded spaces. For example, work in a café with a pair of headphones. Many people find it easy to shut out distractions when they are not targeted at them.

Listen to music. Music is a great way of settling into the working routine. In addition, having music can drown out office noises like printers and background chattering. Be careful though, depending on personal preference, some types of music is not particularly conducive to productive work.

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