Whether you spend your work day in the office or at home, there are bound to be plenty of distractions to chip away at your productivity. Several studies state that at least 50 to 60 percent of American employees waste almost a couple of hours every day at work and are distracted about every 15 minutes or less. The issue of work interruption has become so widespread, that there are now professors and industry experts studying “digital distraction.”
Here we list some of the biggest distractions at work and some solutions that work for us. The trick is to keep at it and experiment with different ways to stay focused and productive.
In this article
- 1 1. No Breakfast + Dehydration = Exhaustion
- 2 2. Getting a little too personal
- 3 3. So much to do, so little time
- 4 4. Constant office noise… it sucks.
- 5 5. Surfing the internet, IMing, social media…
- 6 6. Family and friends calling constantly
- 7 7. Who turned down the thermostat?!
- 8 8. A nice window seat
- 9 9. Clean, fix, cook, and work at home
- 10 10. Stop catching up on your shows
1. No Breakfast + Dehydration = Exhaustion
Staying hydrated will help stave off fatigue, but it’s also smart to have a healthy breakfast to start your work day and get your brain power going. Avoid heavy, greasy lunches that will only make you feel exhausted all afternoon, and may cause you to over-caffeinated and feel jittery or irritable. Try to take some time for regular exercise either before or after work. In New York City, noon time discos are a unique way to help office-goers break up the day, release stress and get their heart pumping.
2. Getting a little too personal
Have personal stress looming overhead? Talk it out with a friend or write it out in an email that you send to yourself or to a close friend. Just get it out of your system in the morning and see if that helps. Take short breaks, get outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery, find a quiet place and meditate for 5 minutes to clear your head.
3. So much to do, so little time
Break it down. Write out a list of priorities and work on one task at a time, get it done, move onto the next task. Don’t try to multitask—your quality of work will suffer and nothing will get done.
4. Constant office noise… it sucks.
Your coworkers are talking at you nonstop, phones are ringing off the hook, and if the boss cackles like a starved chicken one more time… Put on your headphones, move to another desk, or let your coworkers know that you have a big project that needs your full attention, and that you’ll catch up with them for lunch. You’ve got work to do!
If these distractions are not blocked at work, block them yourself, or turn it all off. Need IM for work? Set it to busy or temporarily block your most chatty friends during serious work hours.
6. Family and friends calling constantly
Turn your cell phone off. Put it on silent and hide it somewhere. If it’s an emergency, they’ll call your work phone.
7. Who turned down the thermostat?!
Too much movement, bright fluorescent lights, room temperature, uncomfortable chairs/desks, running out of office supplies, etc. Talk to HR or your manager to see what can be fixed or changed; be sure to offer your help and suggestions in a firm but polite manner. Ask your colleagues to back you up. If nothing else, ask if there are any possibilities of remote working. Then you can try working from home, a cafe or a co-working space.
8. A nice window seat
Even positive distractions, like a view of the outside, can still lower your productivity. Draw the curtains, move your chair or desk. But if you find yourself daydreaming and yearning to breathe some fresh air, then go ahead and give yourself a break, go out for a 10 minute stroll, and eat your lunch outside.
9. Clean, fix, cook, and work at home
If procrastination has got you more interested in doing laundry or dishes than working on that spreadsheet, then it’s time to head to a cafe or a co-working space. But when unfinished chores are really blocking your ability to work, then just get them over with already to clear your mind space and get back to work guilt-free.
10. Stop catching up on your shows
It’s easy–you work at home, so why not take a break to catch up on Downton Abbey between tasks? Unplug the TV or have your spouse or roommate lock the TV with a password if you really can’t resist. Or simply unsubscribe from cable altogether.
In work, as in life, there will always be distractions, but you can learn to control your reactions. The key is to first understand yourself in your work environment–and only then will you understand exactly how to resist disruptions.
Suchi Rudra is a staff writer for SuperMoney. Her mission is to help fight your evil debt blob and get your personal finances in tip top shape. Photos: Flickr, GoodMythicalMorning, Thoughtfully Simple
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