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Top 5 ways to manage workplace distractions

workplace distractions

Whether we work from home, or a mobile or fixed office, workplace distractions are everywhere … checking out what’s happening on Facebook, ducking out for groceries, housework, connecting with friends, getting caught up on office gossip, wasting time on trivial tasks when we have deadlines to meet, spending too much unproductive time in meetings, pushing paper around because we don’t know where to start … the list of workplace distractions is endless.

How well we deal with workplace distractions directly impacts our productivity – or lack of it! Here are my top 5 ways to minimise workplace distractions.

Learn more: Working from home

Turn off social media notifications

Being notified every time I receive an email can be very distracting. I’m tempted to check it out each time which interrupts my work flow. I think it won’t take too long to quickly respond, but that changes my focus and one distraction can lead me to another, and before I know it I have lots of half completed jobs. A way to combat this is to turn off my notifications, or set my emails to manually download when I instruct them to.

Put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’

I’ve recently discovered ‘Do Not Disturb’ on my mobile. I have this permanently set Sunday-Friday between the hours of 8pm and 7am. Whenever my phone dings, it’s almost impossible to avoid the temptation to check it out. This can leave me forever checking my phone! In busy times I can set DND so I can concentrate on what I need to do and only stop for a phone call or an alarm, and not be tempted to check the latest funny kid or animal picture that my friends have posted on Facebook.

Don’t get sucked into social media

Speaking of Facebook, although social media may be a vital part of business, it can also be the ultimate time waster! Have you ever tracked the amount of time you actually spend on social media? You may be in for a shock! As with my emails, I try to be structured in the times when I’m on social media so that I don’t get sucked into the abyss and end up losing half a day to it!

Schedule your time

I try to be pretty structured in the approach to my day. This means everything is scheduled into my diary, and I block out time for important tasks to get done – even for checking emails and updating social media. I try to get the most urgent work done first so that I’m not thinking about that task all day and distracting me from what I’m working on. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes things pop up unexpectedly and that perfectly scheduled day you had planned goes out the window. Don’t worry about it – just work through what you need to, and come back with a new plan tomorrow.

Learn more: Dealing with small business overwhelm

Focus at work

Working from a ‘non-traditional’ workplace such as from home or a mobile office or co-working space can be particularly distracting. I work from a home office. This means I need to put myself into ‘work mode’ and forget about the dishes in the sink, the washing in the laundry, the groceries to be purchased, and the friends dropping by for a cuppa. I utilise online shopping and have the groceries delivered after hours, I engage a cleaner to get the basics done, I set the timer on my washing machine and dryer so they’re working when I am, and my family and friends know that the weekends are for visiting.

Learn more: Procrastination

Final thoughts on workplace distractions

I’ve learned that distractions and constantly flicking from one thing to the next before actually finishing each task can stop me from achieving a good output. Then there are the distractions we create ourselves to avoid a task we’ve been procrastinating on!

You’re never going to eliminate workplace distractions but if you follow these tips, it’s amazing how much more productive you can be.