Avoiding Distractions at Work

Always getting off track at work? Try out these 4 tips to minimize workplace distractions.


1. Commit to improving your focus.

  • The first step to improving your workplace focus and minimizing distractions is committing to the process – you won’t succeed at staying focused if you don’t really want to!
  • Think about what it is that you’re struggling with, and what your goals are. Ask yourself questions like, “What do I really want?” and  “What is it that I’m struggling with?”
  • Make a list of your common interruptions and distractions, and tackle each of them.

2. Set goals for yourself.

  • Using your list of distractions, set some realistic goals.
    • If you find yourself constantly looking at your phone, make a goal to only check it once every 30-60 minutes.
    • Rather than scrolling through your emails at random, set a timer to check your inbox at specific intervals instead. Some jobs rely on emails more than others, but at most try and only check for updates once every 20-30 minutes.
    • Take fewer breaks, but make them longer. Rather than stopping every 30 minutes for a short rest, try spacing out your break periods, and make them long enough to actually recalibrate and recapture your focus. Go for a short walk, stand up and stretch, or plan out your next period of working time.
  • Make sure your goals are realistic – what can you actually see yourself achieving?

3. Turn off notifications, or use a notification silencing app.

  • Many smartphones now have a “Do not Disturb” mode that will silence all incoming notifications. If you need to take client calls or text other employees, you can set certain exemptions in your phone for those specific notifications, while still silencing unimportant ones.
  • There are apps that will help you reduce notification clutter as well! Some of these include:
    • StayFocused
    • RescueTime
    • Anti-Social
    • Focus
  • Setting aside specific uninterrupted work time throughout the day will help keep you motivated! This can also greatly reduce the number of distractions you find yourself struggling with.

4. Let your coworkers know.

  • Coworkers can be one of the biggest sources of workplace distractions. Whether they’re talking projects with you, or they just want to chat, conversations can quickly derail your workflow.
  • That isn’t to say you should stop socializing at work. It is still important to interact with your coworkers and have a healthy social life! Establishing boundaries can help foster a productive environment.
  • Try letting coworkers know when you’re setting aside uninterrupted blocks of working time. Add “do not disturb” events to your shared calendar. You can also simply tell them “I’ll be working on a project for the next hour. I won’t be checking my phone or email during this time.”