Have you ever sat on your computer and noticed that ten minutes has passed and none of your work was even touched? Whether you’re a new employee or a veteran in the office, it may be hard for you to stay on track because of the endless amount of distractions online. If employers could reduce the time that employees spend on Facebook or YouTube watching cat videos, companies would probably experience unprecedented growth and productivity. But short of getting rid of all the cats in the world (and shame on you if you agree to this), it is likely that cat videos and other Internet distractions will be around for a while. Instead, employees and employers alike should take certain steps to reduce distractions in the workplace.
Different Types of Distractions
> Instant Messaging—Employees can use instant messaging programs to talk to their coworkers and friends about topics unrelated to work. Though instant messaging programs are a useful tool in the workplace, when used improperly, they can be rampant workplace distractions.
> The Internet—Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube are common distractions in the workplace. Many people constantly visit social media sites as an escape from work, or to stay entertained during long hours.
> Co-Workers—Distractions caused by coworkers and other people can manifest in a variety of ways. Perhaps your coworker starts fidgeting next to you or constantly taps his foot against the floor. Maybe a couple of coworkers are having a loud discussion about their fantasy football lineup from across the room. Verbal and physical distractions caused by others can become a serious detriment to work.
> Email—Email is a major source of distraction for many people who are constantly checking their inbox for news. Email is distracting for a number of reasons; many people use email as a justification for not working, or to avoid completing work. Other times, employees will check their emails simply out of habit to see if there’s any new mail in their inbox.
> The Outdoors—If your cubicle or office is placed near a window, this view to the outside world may be an escape from the responsibilities of your work. Employees can stare outside with detachment, watching the small figures move about and go on with their lives. Perhaps they’re going home to make dinner? I wonder what I’m making for dinner tonight … but I digress.
4 Ways to Avoid Workplace Distractions
Managing distractions is difficult, but can be quickly addressed. Consider a few methods that employees can use to minimize the chances of becoming distracted:
> Prioritize your Time:
One of the most useful ways to avoid distractions is to manage your time and projects around them, reducing the chances of disruption. Employees should complete important tasks first, during periods when they are least likely to get distracted. In addition, creating deadlines can structure schedules and help employees stay on task.
> Take a Break:
Instead of taking intermittent, unproductive breaks throughout the day, set some time aside to step away from the computer and take a walk outside. Employees can come back from a break energized, and ready to engage in work again.
> Manage Your Environment
Do you have a messy workplace? Clutter can be a distraction, as your eyes move from object to object. By organizing the area and removing any unnecessary items, employees can create an environment that is beneficial for productivity.
> Use Distractions as a Reward
Sometimes people go on Facebook because they’re waiting for a message from a friend or go on YouTube because they can’t wait to see the latest Taylor Swift video. If these types of distractions are something you actually look forward to (as opposed to something you do simply as a way to procrastinate), then try telling yourself that this will be your reward if you finish your work. It may seem strange at first, but this will certainly help you develop good habits for the future.
It is tough to stay on track at work, especially with the endless amounts of distractions online and in person. However, instead of giving into the temptation of watching the latest popular cat video on YouTube, keep the tips above in mind and stay focused.