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Are workplace distractions bringing your focus down?

While reading this article you will probably quickly read another text or click on another tab to check something. At home, in an office or in a café… it does not matter where you are reading this, the distractions are everywhere. But workplaces provide the biggest array of them all. Thank you for still reading this, you are doing a great job!

The real cost of distractions

According to a recent survey by Udemy, workplace distractions can negatively impact your performance, productivity and even your potential. On average, we get interrupted in every 11 minutes and as it takes our brains up to 25 minutes to get our focus back, we end up losing a lot of work time just by trying to find our flow again.

We have probably all felt how difficult it is to get immersed in our task after being asked even the shortest of questions by our colleagues. According to a UC Irvine study, we then want to compensate for those interruptions and for the time lost by working faster. That increases our stress levels and frustration, and together with that, also our error rate. All in all, it looks like distractions should be avoided as much as possible.

Top 8 workplace distractions

Distractions come in many forms. Even the smallest of them can lengthen the time of task completion and take your work quality down. Trying to switch your attention back to the original task can feel discouraging. That, in turn, can negatively impact the productivity further. When you think about it, how many of these top workplace distractions have personally affected you?

  1. The people who just… don’t stop talking

According to the poll by Udemy, the biggest workplace distraction are your lovely yet chatty co-workers. Whether they are stopping to chat, to gossip or to ask a question, our brains get carried away by the distraction and let go of the thing we were working on.

  1. Office noise

People talking, phones ringing, machines working, ventilators humming, doors opening and closing. Since the background noise never follows a predetermined regular rhythm, our minds subconsciously react to any specific change each and every time, making us more tired and less able to focus over the course of the day.

  1. Meetings

We have all been there, eh? Being dragged to a meeting that did not concern our role or our task, just to lose time from the actual task at hand. Meeting are famous for bringing productivity down.

  1. Internet, social media

Hopping between tabs, checking up on your friends’ updates or switching from one task to another does not save you time or make you more productive. Quite the opposite.

  1. Cellphones, texting, notifications, emails

Bling! Beep! Blink! Buzz! All the lights and sounds that are constantly notifying us of new information on our screens are masterful concentration breakers.

  1. Changes at work

Being overwhelmed by the changes at work can bring down your productivity as much as any other stressful element. This involves being left in the unknown for too long or being suddenly micromanaged to a point that if feels frustrating and weird.

  1. Smoke and snack breaks

Hunger makes it nearly impossible to focus. It is not more productive to work through your lunch break while trying to get the maximum out of that one good stretch of focus. It is better to have a healthy snack in your bag than to keep walking to the kitchen where you are bound to run into other people and more chatting opportunities.

  1. Clutter

A messy workplace can impact your focus and your ability to process information.

How to protect yourself against disruptions?

Luckily, our minds are smart machines and our ability to focus can be boosted by a few well-chosen techniques:

  • Schedule breaks. Schedule breaks into your day but make sure they have a definite ending time. This helps your mind to stay fresh and lessens the need to procrastinate during actual work time.
  • Schedule phone use time. If you are checking your phone for more than 15 times a day, try scheduling in specific time slots for catching up with your texts and messages. If needed, explain the change you are making to your friends.
  • Find a private space to work in. To give your task 100% of your attention, invest in an office pod or an office phone booth where you can do all the work that needs deep concentration. Even better – get your privacy pods in different pod sizes because when people experience their benefits, they want to move more conversations into the silent confounds of a meeting pod.
  • Turn off all the notifications on your phone. Especially the email notification. If there is an emergency, no one will send you an email.

Best solution against workplace disruptions?

Unless you are working on a highly specific and creative task where distractions can actually add new insights to your day, let’s face it – sometimes we all feel like distractions are killing our productivity. If you are working closely with other people and know that your job also requires time and space for private conversations and deeper focus, start looking into privacy pods. They are a simple yet effective solution for providing your mind the silence it needs.

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