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Common Distractions at Work (and How To Silence Them)

If you’re reading this, chances are you tend to zone out and find yourself distracted from work. It could be because you’re bored, you do not fully understand the task or it is taking forever to finish. ah, distractions at work.

It’s either your phone perpetually ringing, colleagues coming in with some query one after the other, back-to-back meetings, a birthday reminder, your wedding anniversary, or your favorite football team winning the match. The next thing you know, it’s lunch hour and you’re hungry and unable to work.

These and numerous other interruptions are seemingly trivial but it could be a real struggle to stay productive and finish the important things as you had planned them by the minute.

Even the best of us face distractions at work every hour of every day and that is as real as it is human. Aside from taking the mind off of work, distractions affect our productivity and energy levels and the ability to focus and be committed to work long enough to produce quality work.

At times, it’s difficult to determine which distractions are external and which are self-inflicted so we can control them to get more done within the time at hand?

A survey, based on 2000 HR professionals conducted in 2016 by Career Builder deduced that the prime causes of distraction during working hours are phones and their notifications of sorts, internet and ads, social media apps, Gossip, drop-ins by co-workers, clients, or guests, smoking or snack breaks, meetings, and noisy co-workers. The results are alarming.

Common Distractions at Work

  • Smartphones- 55%
  • Internet and ads (41%)
  • Social media (37%)
  • Gossip (37%)
  • Drop-ins (27%)
  • Breaks (27%)
  • Meetings (24%)
  • Noisy and talkative co-workers (20%)

More than half of the employers admitted they lose two or more hours a day because of workplace distractions. About half of the participants stated that 3 hours or more were compromised.

If one individual loses about 2 hours a day on average, imagine how many hours an organization is losing on a daily basis if they have more than 5 employees. The collective loss of working hours means extra hours at work to produce the best work and meet targets.

Let’s look at common workplace distractions in-depth and tips on how to overcome them to enhance productivity and creativity.

Having too much to handle

It’s a popular belief that multi-tasking makes you super-human, but it’s rather the contrary. Multi-tasking takes away the focus and the quality, leaving with you more work than you started with. It takes a while to wrap your mind around the high-priority task after a distraction.

How to overcome the distraction and improve focus


It is not possible to deliver peak performance while you are multi-task. It is also impossible to half-do 20 different things simultaneously and expect them to finish and not bother you ever again. However, it is possible to segment.

Divide your day into chunks or segments. This technique will allow you to give uninterrupted attention to what needs the most time, giving you time to breathe and look into things that distract otherwise.

Segmenting is committing for an intentional amount of time and blocking distractions. After working through that segment, take a planned break and resume working by setting a segment.

Using the Pomodoro Technique is a great way of timing yourself as per your ease. Using a project management tool is another way to bring in that much-needed discipline.

Social media & smartphone usage

Popular research says smartphone users check their phones every 6 and a half minutes. That amounts to 10 times in an hour, 80 times in your working day. If you’re working 8 hours a day, and you reach out for your phone as often as the number of times quoted, how will you work?

We all are guilty here. You are focused on your work and ping! A notification saying “someone commented on your photo”

5 minutes later, a message saying your subscription has ended and you need to pay up.

How many times do you find yourself scrolling through social media applications? The apps sneak in with their unavoidable charm and take away our dedication. Other times, you just sit back waiting for someone to share the meme you shared or leave the “haha” reaction on your recent post. It’s a quagmire.

How to overcome the distraction and improve focus

Using the “focus mode” or “do not disturb” mode to lock the distracting apps and block the notifications during your working hours could be a great hack. When you have sided the distractions, streamline tasks and set team goals for the day/week using a collaboration tool for businesses to keep you on track with what’s next.

Using the silent mode to your benefit is a great way to break the habit.

Use a separate phone for work where you keep the device free from all the apps that are on your phone so you’re sure it’s just for business. If apps like WhatsApp, Emo, etc are keeping you engaged on your phone for business, using a communication tool for business is a great way to keep chats professional and time-bound.

In a nutshell

It’s a personal call to use the time to our benefit so we don’t have to work extra hours. It is essential to understand everything has its set time and place in life and it’s best if we separate work from all distractions. Unfortunately, workplace distractions are not going away anytime soon but you can minimize them to optimize the workflow by bringing in the right discipline. Another way is to incorporate platforms that work to make work-life easier and more productive. Project management tools and tools for collaboration are parts of the digital era that make life simpler on all levels. Project management and collaboration tools have become the need of time, so you can deliver on time and ace your performance.