Workplace distractions can be the worst! One minute you’re focused in on something important and the next, you’re checking your Facebook notifications or watching a YouTube video.
Nearly 3 out of 4 workers admit them feel distracted at some point on the job and according to Inc, lost efficiency due to distractions is costing companies millions. It’s the issue most people are unwilling to talk about or even acknowledge.
If you work for yourself, you’ll find it can be even more difficult to avoid distractions since you don’t have anyone hovering over you to report to. If you’re managing a team, it’s probably safe to say you don’t want to miss out on a huge amount of potential profit due to pesky distractions.
When you feel like you’ve tried everything, consider these 7 surefire ways to eliminate workplace distractions. Odds are, at least one of these tactics will enable you and your team members to stay more focused and productive during the workday.
1. Create Time Restrictions
Limiting the time you have to complete a task can be an easy way to eliminate distractions. If you or someone on your team works well under pressure, you may find it helpful to be challenged with completing a task in less time than it usually takes you.
When we think we have a lot of time, we tend to fill it with unnecessary things that sidetrack us. Every time, I’m working under a time crunch, I get more done as I’m more focused on the task at hand.
When you think about it, having a full 8 hour work day and being tasked with staying focused and productive during that time can seem like a difficult challenge. If you break your day up and time block your work instead, it’s less intimidating to think about focusing on a task distraction-free for an hour or even 30 minutes. Once you start hitting those smaller milestones, you’ll be motivated to go longer without getting distracted.
2. Put Your Phone in Airplane Mode
When I’m working on a task, that requires my full attention, I put my phone on airplane mode or silence it and place it in the other room. Working with your phone next to you can be a habit that provides comfort in some unexplainable way.
If you can’t part with your phone during the day, practice putting it in airplane mode when working on serious tasks. This means you’ll spare yourself the constant dinging noises from social media and email along with incoming calls or text notifications.
Whenever you hear a notification, it’s tempting to reach for your phone and look at it. Most of the time, it’s nothing too important and you’ve thrown off your concentration.
Instead, set a goal time-frame for how long you want to work and what you want to get done, then reward yourself by checking phone notifications after you’ve worked distraction-free for that time.
3. Close Your Email Tab
If you’re an excessive email checker, you probably can’t do anything without looking at your phone or refreshing your tabs to see if you received any new messages. Research shows us that people who excessively check email do it in search of receiving positive news.
Maybe you’ve received an awesome email in the past or someone reached out to you via email with a unique opportunity and it turned your whole day around. Your sub-conscious mind now finds it pleasurable to constantly check email in hopes of another pleasant message dropping into your inbox.
Just like with phone notifications, most incoming emails are not superb and can be very distracting. Deactivate email notifications on your phone or simply close the tab your email is on in your web browser when you are looking to eliminate distractions.
4. Control Your Surroundings
You can’t always control your surroundings, but there are some ways you can influence them and choose the right working environment. For example, you probably won’ t be able to focus much if you’re working in a noisy area where you can’t control the traffic of people flowing in nor what’s being said or done.
If you’re working at home, you’ll have more control over your surroundings but that doesn’t mean that all your distractions will disappear. You’ll need to turn off the T.V., find a designated workspace, feed the cat or dog, make sure the kids are at school or being supervised by someone else and put away your phone.
You may even find it better to work in a more controlled environment away from home like a coworking space or the library. These places aren’t particularly noisy and can motivate you to be more productive as and eliminate workplace distractions.
5. Eat Full and Healthy Meals
According to a Harris Poll commissioned by CareerBuilder, employers say that their teams waste around 30% of their distracted time on snack breaks. Snack breaks during the workday have always been fun because they symbolize a time when you can step away from work and be freely distracted.
While snack breaks can be helpful, they should also be limited especially if they are becoming too distracting. One thing you can do is eat more full and healthy meals during the day to eliminate your urge to snack.
If you eat a balanced breakfast, you may not even get hungry until 3-4 hours into the workday. You can even prep and pack snacks so you don’t have to waste more time going to find and prepare snacks for your break.
After your most challenging tasks for the day are completed during the morning, you may want to take a short snack break to refuel during the afternoon slump.
6. Install Distraction Blocking Programs on Your Computer
If you frequent a few sites that tend to distract you from important work, consider downloading software to help you block these sites during specific times of the day. Freedom helps you become more productive by blocking certain sites throughout the day.
Calendar can help you carefully plan your day and work week for optimal productivity. If you own a Mac, you can use the Self Control app to block certain sites to help you eliminate workplace distractions. Cold Turkey is the equivalent of this service but for Windows users.
7. Have Accountability
Sometimes, you just need to have someone to answer to which can help you better eliminate workplace distractions. If you are your own boss, this can seem difficult at first, but all you need is an accountability partner.
Choose a friend, family member, partner, or a colleague and just take a few minutes to tell them what you’re going to do for the day and report back to them in the afternoon to share whether you did it or not.
Naturally, you’ll want to deliver a positive report so you’ll be motivated to avoid distractions and stay on task. You may even want to post on social media and have your followers hold you accountable for following through.
Ultimately, distractions don’t have to take over your day. If you’re spending a ton of time getting distracted, imagine how much more you can accomplish and how much time you could save by utilizing these 7 easy hacks.
Do you feel that you get distracted often during the day? What are you doing to combat this?
Choncé Maddox is a professional writer who recently left her job in the web design industry to produce killer content and manage her own writing business full time. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive and create a life they love by doing fulfilling work. On the side, she runs a podcast and blogs about getting out of debt at MyDebtEpiphany.com.