We all get distracted sometimes. A noise that catches the ear, a movement captured by peripheral vision, or an instant message that appears on the computer screen – all create distractions that interrupt a person’s concentration.
However, if you are getting distracted so frequently at work that you’re unable to complete assigned tasks in a timely manner, that’s a serious problem. In that case, you should pursue strategies for avoiding distractions. Here are six techniques to avoid getting distracted at the office.
1. Nip it in the Bud
If you become aware that something has the potential to distract you, take action to prevent that happening before the distraction happens. For example, if you are assigned a desk beside a window and you know that you’re likely to be distracted by the sight of pedestrians and cars, do something to change the view. You could either adjust the blinds or change the arrangement of office furniture so that you’re facing away from the window.
2. Tune Out by Tuning In
If sounds tend to distract you, invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. They’re slightly more expensive than regular headphones but worth the extra money. Then wear the headphones at the times of the day when you expect to be disturbed by stray sounds. You can use a mobile player or your computer along with the headphones to play music (if that is not itself a distraction), nature sounds, or other ambient sounds.
3. Clear Your Workspace
If you are being distracted by items on your desk or elsewhere around your workstation, clear them out. The bobbleheads of your favorite athletes are fun to play with, but they’re probably not necessary for any task you need to complete. Keep only those items that are essential for your work.
4. Go Offline/Off-Social
If you’re plagued by online distractions when working at the computer, go offline for blocks of time during the workday (if your role allows this). Closing your Internet browser, avoiding socail media, or otherwise disconnecting from the streaming world removes a whole set of possible distractions.
5. Change Your Location
If your desk is at the corner of two busy aisles and colleagues are constantly walking by (and sometimes stopping to chat), perhaps you should ask for another workstation. This may seem drastic, but if a quiet corner location increases your productivity, management will be happy that you made the request.
Experts claim that a distraction of ten seconds can result in ten minutes or more of lost working time. The problem is that when a person’s concentration is broken, it takes several minutes for the individual to reestablish their focus on the task. For this reason, avoiding distractions is a serious matter, both for employees and for their employers.
Got another tip for avoiding distractions? Share them in the comments below.