The GetFive Blog

Top workplace distractions and how to avoid them

March 20, 2017

hand pushing on a touch screenTechnology has changed the way the business world operates by streamlining processes and facilitating communication. However, it has also brought new distractions that kill productivity, and at times, innovation. Pair this with the social aspect of the office, and at any given moment a worker is battling numerous hurdles to getting tasks done.

The five biggest workplace productivity killers according to a CareerBuilder study are:

  • Cellphones/texting
  • The internet
  • Gossip
  • Social media
  • Email

Smart workers will take steps to regain control and focus so they enjoy the positive aspects of the office without losing momentum. Here are some simple, yet highly effective ideas to encourage productivity while avoiding unnecessary distractions:

  1. Surround yourself with productive people: The office social butterfly can be a big distraction if he/she is in the cube next to you. Alternatively, if you are surrounded by people who are productive, that energy is contagious. Supervisors should be aware of the work environment and adjust desks if necessary. If your boss isn't getting the message, make it clear by scheduling a private meeting so you can make changes.
  2. Silence the phone: A ringing cell phone is a distraction to anyone who can hear it. That could include people 10 cubes away from you. Unless essential for doing a particular job, make it policy that mobile devices be silenced at work. The best employees will keep their cell phones out of sight so even if they buzz or flash, they aren't distracted.
  3. Schedule regular breaks: Taking breaks can actually help you be less distracted throughout the day. Studies show the brain needs time to recharge, so try to take a 15 minute break for about every 90 minutes of work. If you don't, you may find yourself subconsciously taking a break by checking your phone or updating social media. Instead, allow for intentional breaks to help you stay focused.
  4. Turn off social media: Unless you are a social media manager for a company, you're probably only using the platforms for personal reasons. Photos of your cousin's kid might be cute, but they certainly aren't helping you craft that knock-them-dead presentation due at the end of the week. It's best to leave social media for when you're off the clock.
  5. Check email strategically: How many people leave their email on all day and at least glance at the subjects the moment they pop up? After reading, it takes maybe 15 seconds to get back into the swing of your work. So, 100 emails means 25 minutes lost per day. A smart strategy is to plan specific periods in the day to check email and use the other time to focus on projects or meetings. That way you're using your time efficiently.

Technology continues to advance business, revolutionize jobs and change lives. But all good things have drawbacks. If you can keep distractions at bay, you'll be a much more productive worker by harnessing technology in only the best ways possible.

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