Workplace distractions are on the rise. They are happening, we are falling into them and we need some solutions!
For us to properly solve, squash, combat, these distractions, let’s figure out what we’re facing.
When asked to name the biggest productivity killers in the workplace, employers cited the following:
- Mobile phones/texting: 52 percent
- The Internet: 44 percent
- Gossip: 37 percent
- Social Media: 36 percent
- Email: 31 percent
- Co-workers dropping by: 27 percent
- Meetings: 26 percent
- Smoke breaks/snack breaks: 27 percent
- Noisy co-workers: 17 percent
(Barry Chignell, “The 9 Big Workplace Distractions and how to Counter them” 2016)
Moral of the story: there are a lot of distractions. Let’s be real - we can’t get rid of phones, or the internet, or Social Media. We might be able to get rid of drama/gossip/ego (have you read our last blog?), the reality is we need email, co-workers will be co-workers, meetings are a must, and everyone needs a snack. Before we get into real solutions, it is important to look at how these distractions are amplified in a “modern” workplace - one that allows dogs, beer, ping pong and bean bag chairs.
We asked THE expert of workplace distractions, Nik Gatan. Nik is an Education Channel Manager for Sphero, a robotics startup out of Boulder.
Our question to Nik was this;
What are your biggest work distractions? How do you maintain your workplace productivity without feeling deprived of your ability to partake in the "fun" aspects of your workplace?
“Working in a "modern type" workspace has its perks like dogs to pet, beer on tap to drink, and ping pong to be played, but sometimes it can be a distraction from the things that need to get done! Most workspaces like this are open with no walls or cubicles. I love the sense of community and ease to ask a quick question, but it can be a distraction. My biggest distractions are the phone calls, meetings, or co-workings while in an open space and of course taking a break to chat! To be successful and limit the amount in interruptions that pull me away from my work I wear a pair of noise-canceling headphones during the times when I have work that needs to be done right away.
It’s so important that we know how to take an introspective approach to this idea. Ultimately, we are the ones “letting” ourselves get distracted. This notion of using noise canceling headphones is something easy that we can all do! Headphones don’t take away from anyone else’s workspace. Headphones also send a message to your colleagues that it's not a good time to swing by and say hi or to challenge me to a ping pong match!
Awesome, what else?
Chignell suggests in his book
The 9 Big Workplace Distractions and how to Counter Them,
"One way to remove the distraction of apps and the internet is to turn off mobile data on your device. This still enables a voice call or texts to get through, should someone need to contact you, but removes many of the less-than-vital communications or notifications.”
Great! So for noise, we cancel it out. Cell phones, not a problem - we can turn off data. How about gossip? Not to fear! You can read our last blog! How about Social Media and email?
Restricting your social notifications to stop you reacting to social updates; removing the networks from your favorites (or placing them in a folder less accessible) is also an effective option. You could also create a second ‘working’ identity for online services and apps like Google and the Chrome web browser, which doesn’t have Social Media in the favorites and has only those sites that are work-related available
In addition, for email,
Using filters within your email software allows you to automate many of the tasks and processes that you spend time completing manually and, as such, keep you away from other duties. You can also proactively reduce the number of emails you receive by trying to lessen the amount you send in the first place. Think practically about who really needs to be included in your email and make sure that you’re clear and concise in what you’re asking or the information you’re conveying.
Ask yourself, “What pulls me away during the day and how can I implement these tools to be more productive during my 8 hours at the workplace?”.
The opportunities and solutions are there and it’s simply up to you whether you want to try them.
If you are interested in supporting your employees and helping them with distractions, join us on May 15th to learn alongside Curt Steinhorst. Curt’s program is titled Can I Have Your Attention? Inspiring Better Work Habits, Focusing Your Team and Getting Stuff Done in The Constantly Connected Workplace.
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