How to deal with workplace distractions

Office & Culture

There is nothing more frustrating than getting distracted as a deadline looms closer. We share our advice on how to avoid workplace distractions.

Sometimes distraction can be caused by personal procrastination, but often it can also be caused by external factors, coming in the form of chatty co-workers or buzzing phones.

Here are some of the worst workplace distractions and our top tips on how to deal with them:

Dealing with chatty co-workers

Though it’s hard to say no, when you have to get work done, it’s good to know how to avoid co-workers that are looking for a chat.
As a deadline encroaches there are a few easy ways to deter co-workers from coming over to your desk to talk. If you have your own office, close the door. If not, then try to go to a meeting room to get away by yourself.
Make your desk less hospitable and inviting; if there are chairs by your desk, remove them. If a colleague comes over to talk, stand up for the conversation.
It’s important to set boundaries. If someone wants to have a chat while you’re busy, say you’ll meet them for lunch. If it’s something work related, ask them to pop it in an email so you can get back to them in your own time. If a colleague asks “can you spare a minute” and this turns into an hour long distraction, next time, ask them to schedule a meeting.

Managing micromanaging supervisors

Even tougher than dealing with a distracting co-worker is trying to deal with an interrupting manager. You can’t exactly ask them to stop distracting you and go away.
One approach to this type of situation is to take the offensive. Constantly update your manager about the project you’re working on. This will allow you to communicate with them during lulls in your work when it suits you and should reduce the number of times they need to check in with you.

Overcoming office noise

An open office space can feature an array of noisy distractions, from co-workers chatting on the phone to printers, copiers and the dreaded rumbling of a shredder.
You might be unlucky to have your desk situated beside the door or the bathroom. For the most part, you’re likely to adjust to the noise levels, but in high stress situations when you need to get work done in a hurry, it can be a good idea to seek out a quiet meeting room where you can have space to yourself.
Alternatively, if this isn’t possible, noise-cancelling headphones are always a good option. They also have the added benefit of deterring co-workers from approaching you for a chat.

Technology distracts but can help prevent distraction

For many of us, the internet is our biggest time waster both at work and at home. It’s a good idea to log off any non-work related websites while at your desk. But with the prevalence of personal technology that alerts users to work emails, as well as their social media notifications, it’s easy when using your phone for something work related to then get distracted by Facebook.
The best approach is to silence notifications from social media during work hours. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to silence email alerts on your phone too. There’s no need for these distractions while you’re at your desk as you’ll likely be clicking into your inbox throughout the day anyway. You don’t need alerts and notifications interrupting your train of thought.
Check in on your inbox at times of low productivity. If you receive an email that will take a while to reply to, add it to your to-do list rather than letting it distract you.
Instead of checking your social media accounts, make a list of things you want to accomplish, then meet a friend for lunch for a real social connection.
Technology can also help reduce distractions. For example, you can use it to set reminders, so you don’t worry about forgetting a meeting while doing your work. Here are some useful apps for preventing workplace distraction.

Having a pleasant work environment

Even if you’re in a rush to get a project done, it’s worth taking some time to make sure your environment is conducive to being productive.
If it’s too hot or cold at your desk, your mind will be on the wrong thing. If the sun shining through the window is overwhelming, you’ll find it hard to concentrate.
Make sure your desk is clear of clutter and that everything you might need comes to hand easily.
Take a couple of minutes to make sure you’re comfortable and that things are set up right so that you can get down to work and settle into concentration quickly and easily.

Looking after yourself

Finally, one of the most important things to help you stay focused at work is to look after your own wellbeing.
Get plenty of sleep, so you can concentrate easily. Staying hydrated will help you stay alert, as will taking breaks throughout the day.
Opt for a healthy lunch while at work, as a heavy or sugary meal will leave you feeling sluggish and distractions will quickly win the battle for your attention.
Finally, make sure to take some time for a brisk walk or other exercise so that you feel energised throughout the day. Don’t let the internet distract you from your personal life either – stroll instead of scroll.

If you would like to find out more about Glandore and how we can help your business grow in one of our flexible work spaces get in touch here.

Our serviced office buildings, along with our membership plans, have been designed to give you the flexibility and scalability to align your workspace with your business needs.

We offer our members more than just office space to let, we strive to create environments that encourage, inspire and support the growth of the companies we house.

For minimal distractions, our facilities in Belfast and Dublin include phone booths, meeting rooms and a clubroom.

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