3 Keys to Avoid Common Workplace Distractions

October 29th, 2015

If you read articles on the internet (since you’re reading this one, it’s probably a safe bet), you likely see at least a handful of articles focusing on productivity each day. With good reason: Today’s employers expect their employees to get more done. “Time is money” is the old adage, and it holds true today.

The “secret” to getting more done.helpmates

What if instead of getting more done, we focused on eliminating common workplace distractions that are unimportant or worse, make you “feel” like you’re being productive, when reality is just the opposite (and they’re taking us away from truly important tasks)? It might not be much of a “secret,” but eliminating distractions can make a drastic impact on your ability to get work done and feel satisfied when you leave the office each day.

Focusing on these three keys will help:

Put away the phone. Is your mobile phone an accessory, a communication device…or an extension of your physical body? The latter is true for an increasing number of adults. In fact, people between the ages of 18 and 36 check their phone an average of 43 times per day! When added up individually, one or two minutes on your phone more than 40 times equals a little over an hour. That doesn’t sound too intimidating; however, when you think about the time taken away from tasks, or restarting important tasks after checking your phone, the actual impact is much greater. Making matters worse, actually checking your phone isn’t the only thing distracting you from work – just hearing and seeing phone notifications is enough to distract you and prevent you from focusing on your tasks. The solution is as simple as it sounds – don’t keep your phone somewhere easily accessible, where the temptation to check it (or the sights and sounds of notifications) can cause you to veer off course.

Manage your email. Researchers have found that checking email more often leads to increased stress and feeling emotionally drained. So then why do many of us check email compulsively throughout the day? Regardless of specific industry, many of us now find ourselves in service-based roles. Our clients or customers expect us to respond to their questions or concerns quickly. But how quickly? Another recent study found that three quarters of employees report replying to email within an hour of receiving it. Is that really necessary? Depending on your industry or specific role, maybe — but it’s highly unlikely. Rather than constantly checking email all day (which, as noted above, not only takes the time necessary to read and respond to emails, but the time needed to resume tasks or get back into whatever you were working on previously), schedule set times throughout the day to check it. In most cases, checking email first thing in the morning, just before or after lunch, and again near the end of the day ensures you read every message within a couple hours of receiving it, and can promptly address anything that needs to be addressed. For real emergencies, your coworkers, clients or customers will call you or find you in person, they won’t be sending emails. So schedule time to check and respond to emails, and focus the rest of your time on truly important tasks.

Drown out ambient noise. Open offices are becoming more common, and even in traditional, cubicle-based offices, conversations and other ambient noise can bleed into your workspace — and make it difficult to focus on important tasks. The simplest way to drown out noise and create a more suitable work environment is to wear headphones and listen to music that helps you focus. But if your workplace doesn’t allow headphones, consider explaining to your supervisor that, while you are a team player, the nature of your job makes it difficult to focus with the level of noise outside your cubicle. Your supervisor may be able to accommodate a request for a new cubicle. Or, you may be able to negotiate the addition of a “white noise” machine or fan, which can drown out ambient noise and provide a better environment for you to get your work done.

Avoiding workplace distractions at work can help you get more done and be more successful, but when you’re looking for a job that provides you with the opportunities you need, call Helpmates. We work with top employers to provide jobs across Southern California, and we’ll find the right job to help you reach your goals. 

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