Distractions at Work: 
6 Tips to Handle the Worst Time Wasters

distractions at work

Do you often get distracted when you're at work?

Frustration can soon set in when you do.

The reality is, workplace distractions are always there. You can’t get rid of them, but you can manage them better than most.

Here are 6 major distractions at work with ideas to help you deal with them:

1. People

Other people distract you. They pull your attention away from doing what matters. Whether its small talk, excessively long conversations or ‘water cooler’ chat, you pay with your time.  

Managing interruptions is a skill in itself. Also, get into the habit of equating your time with cost. Think of your time in these terms and you’ll be more aware of other people distracting you. This in itself will have a huge impact on your ability to deal with them.

2. Email

Many people who are driven to distraction ‘just check’ their email frequently. But it can easily dictate the day.

When a message pops up on the screen, what’s the natural response? To read it. Regardless of its content, an instant reply to an email is a distraction.

Learn how to use email effectively and you control it rather than letting it control you, even to the point at which you have an empty inbox each day.

3. Your phone

As with email, the same principle applies to phone calls. Very few people will ignore a ringing phone. If you’re working on something and you don’t need to answer it… don’t! Let your voice mail earn its keep.

At first, this is a hard habit to break. But it's one of the simplest and most effective time management techniques anyone can ever learn.

If you can, batch calls together at a time that suits your work schedule -- this will also jump start your productivity.

4. Internet

Online distractions are everywhere. Social Media, RSS feeds or irrelevant websites -- they’re all a mouse click away, and they’re major productivity killers.

The best way to deal with online distractions at work?

Firstly, stay aware. Getting sidetracked wasting time online loses much of it’s power once you realize you are doing it. Awareness is the first step.

Second, don’t fight them! Accept that it’s okay to get distracted within limits. Once you know you're distracted, decide how long you'll allow yourself to be. This 'time buffer' makes it easier to return to your work.

5. Your Body

Distractions at work can easily be triggered by hunger, thirst, energy levels or bathroom visits. The better these are managed, the less you’ll get distracted by them.

Of course, it’s no bad thing to take a break now and then. But too many will constantly interrupt your workflow.

6. Your Environment

Is it too hot, cold, bright, dim or loud? Do you have a messy desk? In short, do your surroundings support your focus or distract you from it?

It’s easy to put up with environmental issues, but tackle them and there are fewer distractions to deal with.

How bad are the distractions where you work?

Try keeping a time management log to see how much time you don’t work. Software such as rescuetime.com can be useful to help you track how you're using yours.

Bottom line?

Awareness is the first step.

Once you know you’re getting distracted you immediately have a choice.

Integrity in the moment of choice will help you steer yourself away from distractions and focus on what you’re doing because you know exactly why you’re doing it.


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Distractions at Work