Distractions are everywhere - at home, on the road, and even at the workplace. According to a recent study conducted by Workfront in the UK, most Britons spend less than 40% of their day in performing their duties. If we extrapolate this data to the rest of the world, the figures would undoubtedly be abysmal. In the digital age, distractions have taken up a whole new meaning. According to a study by Gallup, once distracted, an average person takes 23 minutes to get back to work. So, where does one start to get past the worst distractions at the workplace and actually start being productive? Let’s take a look.
Identify the biggest culprits
Emails are by far the biggest distractions at the workplace. Businesses cannot run without them anymore and that’s the fact we have to live with. When done right, they are a blessing, but sadly, no one uses them efficiently and as a result, they sap out a large part of your productivity each day. In order to get past it, you need to practice self-control by setting aside specific times in the day to respond to emails. While you do that, do ensure that you switch off all push notifications on your phone as well.
The internet is a boon and a bane in the same breath. While it drives businesses around the world towards new heights, it can easily act as the biggest distraction at your desk. One moment, you’d be checking facts for a report and in the next, you’d be looking up cat videos on social media websites. An hour would go by and the worst part is that you won’t even realize it. Monitoring and blocking websites should be the last resort, self-control should be the first.
Meetings - one of the most banal activities at the workplace where hardly anything ever gets done. If you are invited to such meetings all the time, then you are already wasting a large part of your day. What you need to do is to start asking for a fixed agenda and an expected outcome of every meeting. If your colleagues cannot provide you with one, then it would be best to excuse yourself from that meeting and focus on your responsibilities.
Regardless of what business pundits would have us believe, open plan offices are the worst. Distractions from colleagues is inevitable in such working spaces. Loud conversations, unsolicited advice, or even queries related to another project are enough to make anyone lose focus. The best way around it is to assert that you are busy with another task at the moment, but if all else fails, walk the line between being rude and polite like a politician.
Bringing it all together
Distractions are inevitable. The education system and employers are looking for people who can multitask. But the reality is that multitasking is eroding your capacity to produce high-quality work. However, the good thing is that addressing them is completely in your control. All you need is to learn to exercise self-control and focus on one task at any given time, and before you know it, you’ll be zen at the workplace.