How to Avoid Distractions in the Workplace (& Home Office)
Do you ever find yourself distracted when working, whether at home or at the office? You most likely do because workplace distractions always happen to fellow workers.
Research shows that nearly 70% of workers feel distracted, while 16% report being almost always distracted. Distractions in the workplace interfere with our productivity, causing distress.
Distractions in the Workplace Interrupt Productivity
Most of us procrastinate at work, distracting ourselves by delaying our tasks or decisions. We usually focus on less urgent but more fun things to do or think about. When you take your attention away from work, your productivity suffers. Distractions can slow you down and reduce your efficiency, cause you to overlook important details, make mistakes, lose focus, and waste valuable time.
Finally, disruptions in the workplace decrease motivation, causing you to be less proactive and engaged at work.
What Causes Us to Feel Distracted
The list of distractions in the workplace is nearly endless. In the office, anything can interrupt your work—phone calls, emails, coworkers dropping by, or ad hoc meetings—the list of daily workplace distractions goes on. Similarly, if you work from home, you might quickly lose your flow of thought with distractions such as your toddler wanting your attention, your dog needing to be taken for a walk, or emails waiting to be responded to.
Research shows that the top distractions at the office are:
- Cell phones
- Office noise
- Coworkers that are gossiping or dropping by
If you work remotely, you may be easily distracted by the requirements of your family and pets, domestic tasks, TV shows, calls, emails, and other activities.
In addition, your mental health condition may cause you to be distracted at work. For instance, stress, anxiety, and depression may affect your mood and make it difficult to focus, stay motivated, and complete tasks.
Technology Makes Us Feel Like We Always Need to Be ‘On’
Do you feel tempted to stay connected most of the day because you fear missing out (FOMO)? The constant flow of information may make setting boundaries difficult, generating a sense of urgency to stay informed and connected. Furthermore, social media and messaging apps place us under social pressure by making us feel like we need to answer notifications and messages instantly and be ‘on.’
Working from Home Can Blur Our Boundaries
The development of remote work, particularly since the pandemic’s beginning, has blurred our boundaries between work and personal life. Some people may believe they must be available 24/7 to handle business-related emails and messages, giving the impression of constantly being ‘on.’
Also, working from home can make it challenging to switch off from work and establish a life-work balance, as you have no office to leave at the end of the day. This can cause you to work longer hours without being able to fully relax, which can lead to burnout and decreased productivity in the
Fatigue Can Wear Down Our Attention
Fatigue depletes our cognitive resources, impairs our decision-making and problem-solving skills, and slows us down. It can make it difficult to focus as your brain becomes less efficient at processing information. This can cause you to rush through tasks without giving them the attention they deserve.
As such, feeling tired can increase distractibility, making us hypersensitive to external (noise, movement, or light) and internal distractions (our thoughts and emotions).
Are There Such Things as “Good Distractions?”
Self-care is always a good distraction. It is okay to take a break and distract yourself from work when you feel overwhelmed or exhausted. For example, go for a run before an important online meeting, or practice mindfulness when you’re feeling swamped at work by emails or phone calls. Read a book or watch an episode of your favorite TV show (no binge-watching, though!).
7 Tips to Avoid Distraction in the Workplace
1) Set Yourself Boundaries
It is critical to establish clear boundaries that separate work and personal time. For example, designate a workplace in your home. Prioritize self-care by setting aside time for activities that provide “positive distraction” and allow you to unplug from work.
2) Organize Your Day and Have a Plan
Set clear working hours for yourself. Communicate with managers and coworkers about your availability outside these designated work hours. Use time management to organize your working day, prioritize tasks, and minimize distractions.
3) Limit Multitasking
Being busy does not necessarily mean that you are productive. If you try to do too many things at a time, you might not be able to entirely focus on the important tasks that need to be done. So, take on only what you can handle. Instead, plan your time and divide it into time blocks. This should help you set priorities, stop procrastinating, and be more productive.
4) Take Regular Breaks
Scheduling rest time can help you rejuvenate, focus, and stay productive. Make breaks a regular part of your workday, whether you work in an office or remotely. Working long hours may be exhausting, and your health, well-being, mood, and productivity will suffer if you don’t take breaks.
5) Turn Off Notifications When You Can
Phones, texting, and emails are the biggest distractions in the workplace. So, set “do not disturb” mode on your phone, put some sensible restrictions on your screen time, and avoid checking your emails, texts, or social media accounts while you work.
6) Set Smaller Attainable Goals
Setting lofty goals may be exhausting, frustrating, and distracting. If you fail to meet them, you can feel like a failure, which could reduce your productivity even more. So, plan what needs to be done first, and break your goals and activities into pieces you can handle. Set a timeline and deadline for each goal to reduce interruptions and boost productivity.
7) Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Eat Well
Taking good care of yourself helps you stay focused, motivated, and productive, so don’t neglect your basic needs. For example, avoid working past seven, and eat brain-power foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Breaking Free from Distractions to Find Clarity
Knowing how to avoid distraction is one of the most essential skills in the workplace. Consider life coaching if you struggle with setting boundaries and minimizing distractions. A certified life coach can help you set achievable goals, make important decisions more efficiently, reduce procrastination, and more.
If you want to learn how to tune out distractions in the workplace, contact me to set up a free empowering conversation.