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5 office distractions (and how to manage them)


It’s 9:00 AM, and you’re all settled at your desk with a mug of coffee, ready to kick-start your day. You’ve cleared your inbox, and now you’re all set to start your next assignment that you know will take most of your energy and focus through the day.

Just when you start typing, a chat message pops up on your screen.

A notification for an email marked “URGENT!” lands in your inbox.

And your chatty colleague drops by to talk about last night’s after-hours drinks.

Those are just a few of the many distractions we encounter on a daily basis. While answering super urgent emails and pop-up chats, might make you feel super productive, collectively this can add up to a ton of wasted time.

So what are the biggest interruptions at work? And how can you manage them and stay productive?

Mobile devices
As much as you may think that technology is boosting your productivity in some ways, it’s hurting it in others. One of the ways to eliminate this distraction is to turn off mobile data on your device, enabling voice call or texts to get through, should someone need to contact you, but removes many of the less important communications or notifications about the news or favourite TV shows!

Too many meetings & ‘catch-ups’
We’ve all been in meetings that start late, run long, go off topic, fail at being “productive”, or simply have NO agenda. Yes, this is a major work interruption, especially when you want to complete a task quickly. There are two ways to tackle this: not attending them if they’re unnecessary, and when running a meeting, ensuring that it’s purposeful, specific, and driving an outcome.

Disorderly desks
Believe it or not, an unorganised cubicle or desk can kill productivity immensely. Frantically looking for a note or file and discovering something else under the sloppy piles can be very distracting. Its true, physical clutter has a funny way of creeping into your head and creating mental distractions. Keep your desk clear with fewer things on it and around it. And spend the last 5 minutes of every day clearing the clutter on your desk!

Chatty Colleagues
So how does one deal with talkative co-workers who just won’t stop the meaningless banter and small talk? Whether you’re trying to avoid a certain topic, or you just want to answer your chatty colleague’s non-work related question, saying “This is an important conversation, but can we talk about it after XY?” puts the focus back on work while still addressing what your colleague is saying.

Mindless Snacking
Even the staunchest anti-snackers fall prey to pantry temptations. Whether it’s the vending machine with easily accessible crisps or the kitchen that offers a never-ending supply of that yummy snack, it can be easy to spend all day munching between meals—and packing extra pounds.

Easy tip: stack your own healthy snack or tea. Not only will you cut those extra calories, but will be a bit more productive. Of course, get off that chair and stretch but don’t reach out for that packet of Fruit Loops in the pantry!

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