In every success story, the longest chapter is the one about determination and focus. Knowing how to avoid distractions at work is a goal everyone must-have. Success in life demands so many things from us but determination and focus always top the list.
Have you ever settled in to your workspace, ready to make progress for the day, but soon realize that your mind is drifting? You start thinking about family, social media commitments, and before you know it, time is far spent.
If this resonates with you, know that it doesn’t have to be this way. All you need to do is finish this article and find out 12 smart ways to avoid distractions at work.
Distractions are things that happen around or within you, that stop you from giving your full attention to the task at hand. It could be in the form of ambient or loud noises, conversations around you, information overload from the task at hand, electronic gadgets, or mind-wandering.
Distractions are not always bad. In fact, they can be a healthy way to escape from stress and anxiety, or to take your attention away from a bad habit. However, to be in charge and to stay productive, you still need to master some ways to avoid distractions at work.
12 Smart Ways to Avoid Distractions at Work
Understand your triggers
When something distracts you, it steals the spotlight in your brain, either partially or completely. Switching between the distraction and your task can increase your chances of making a mistake.
One of the best ways to avoid distractions at work and optimize productivity is to figure out what catches your attention and stalls your progress. Is it notifications from your gadgets? Conversations of co-workers? Or overthinking the task at hand?
Once you can identify the source of a problem, you’re one step closer to finding a permanent and effective solution.
Set up your day before you sleep
Before you go to sleep every night, decide on what you will do the next day and how you will do it. Then, write it in a book and set series of reminders for each task.
This will serve as an accountability measure for you, and a subtle nudge for every time that you slack off. Make sure to stick to that schedule, working with a set timeline is always effective to avoid distractions at work. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to close your eyes and take in how good it feels to be in charge of your day.
Organize the moments of work
Organize your activities to have work blocks and breaks. You can work with 45-minute blocks and 15-minute breaks. The Work program helps to configure these times and if you work at the computer, it alerts you when you have to take a break.
The block periods are when you should focus on your task, and the breaks are the times you can leave your seat and do other things. This is one of the effective ways to avoid distractions at work and accomplish your goals. While you work, you know that your relaxation time is drawing near. Also, while you’re on break, you can enjoy it because you know that you’re recharging for another work session. You can use simple alarms on your cellphone to make this work.
It may seem slow at first, but slower is much better than giving up early because you took on too much, too soon.
Don’t just work hard. Work smart too.
Avoid electronic distractions
Electronic devices have their section because we depend on computers and cell phones for a lot of things. However, these devices can be of significant distractions. It can be difficult to stay on task when there is a constant stream of emails and app notifications. Use these strategies on your electronics to avoid distractions at work, especially virtually:
- Place the cellphone face-down or across the room to limit accessibility.
- Activate the do-not-disturb or vibrate function during work hours.
- Set time limits for the apps that are most distracting to you (for example, set an alarm that restricts access to Facebook after you’ve used it for 15 minutes).
- Remove notification icons from social media apps, so you can use that app only when you want to, instead of opening it every time you see a notification.
If you don’t need the internet, disconnect it
Instead of setting a time limit, removing the notification icon, and activating do not disturb on your phone, it is more effective to disconnect the internet completely. This only helps if you’re sure that you don’t need it for work.
Drinking water strengthens the brain, which in turn helps the body to work better. This will also help you avoid distractions at work and in turn, increase your focus.
You may not realize it, but dehydration causes more than just thirst. It can reduce your concentration and cognitive ability, which prevents you from thinking clearly and reaching maximum performance.
Water plays an important role in the function of your body, including the brain. Every system in the human body counts on water to function optimally. It transports oxygen to your brain, which allows the brain to communicate with the rest of the body as expected.
When you feel like you can’t concentrate, slow down
If you’ve been sitting, trying to make some progress with work, but you feel like it’s not working, then stop. There is no harm in slowing down when you can’t concentrate anymore on what you are doing, and it certainly wouldn’t help if you start feeling guilty about your productivity level.
This is a good time to practice mindful self-evaluation. Take the time to think about where your mind is wandering to, why you are not putting 100% of yourself into the task at hand. Maybe you’re thinking of something else that is also important, but probably not urgent.
When you discover what is happening, relax and write on a piece of paper, a plan of action to handle that issue. This gives you control, and you can finally focus on the initial work. Learn more about managing productivity guilt.
Avoid noisy environment
Avoid a noisy working environment in other to remain focused, or better still, work when the noise is minimal.
You can wear noise-canceling earplugs or headphones. This will help to avoid distractions at work.
If you work from home, your main sources of distraction could be family conversations or something similar. The best way to control that situation and avoid distractions at work is to set up a home office that optimizes your productivity. If you’re not sure how, check out this comprehensive guide on how to set up your home office in Nigeria.
Beware of falling into the trap of multitasking. The brain is not designed to focus on multiple things at a time. Make it a habit to set time for everything. This will boost your productivity significantly and also directly help you avoid distractions at work. Don’t live by chance.
Choose the moment
For most people, the morning is the most productive time. Choosing the weather arrangement wisely allows you to optimize the use of your natural energies. It is advisable to do the most difficult task in the morning so that you can finish them quickly, take advantage of the rest of the day, and avoid distractions at work due to tiredness or unfavourable work periods. Don’t forget the goal is to work smart not hard. In long-hour jobs, you should allow yourself short breaks of at least ten minutes.
Skip what you don’t know
Students are often told to skip questions they don’t understand and do the ones they understand first. The same applies as one of the ways to avoid distractions at work. If you hit something you don’t understand, skip it and come back to it later. Focus your attention on what you can do.
After you are done with the task you understand, you can come back to the more difficult parts, and by then you might have built up enough momentum and found creative ways to tackle the problem.
Don’t work in bed
If you work virtually, try not to do anything productive while sitting in bed. This is the ultimate form of distraction.
Don’t make a place of sleep your place of work because you might felt the urge to relax while working. So do your work at a proper study desk, every single time – this is a good habit that every professional should cultivate to efficiently avoid distractions at work.
Learning ways to avoid distractions at work is certainly easier said than done. The smart and creative ways mentioned above are easy to practice. The more you focus on what you do, the faster you will do it and the better. And faster you will be able to move on to the next task.
Check out insight’s post on how to overcome procrastination. You’ll find that it can also help avoid distractions at work since is related to overall productivity.
Olunlade Toluwalase Joshua is a Certified Content Writer, a Certified Computer Operator, and a Certified Copywriter. He is also a sexual puritan, a youth advocate, the Gospel's Voice.
He is passionate about the gospel and impacting lives with his writing skills and public speaking.
He guides youths to navigate the destructive and distracting hurdles on their path.
He is a reporter in a non-governmental Academic Organization called Aremu Oluwabrain Academy (AOA), the online Community of every Nigeria Student, to interact and get useful information.
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