We’ve all been there, sitting in front of the office computer working, then your phone buzzes.
While you need to be aware of any emergencies, it’s not okay to let your phone distract you from completing your projects. That being said, how many other distractions exist in the workplace? In honor of No Interruptions Day and the New Year around the corner, here are a few ways to avoid distractions this coming year:
- Conversational Co-Workers
- Some workplaces can be the start of budding friendships. While there’s nothing wrong with this,it can be challenging if the friendship interferes with work. The Harvard Business Review reviewed a recent study on friends in the workplace; while they said it was good to have office friends, it can also be distracting.
- Instead, try meeting your friends off the clock at lunch, on a quick walk, or short coffee.
- Coffee Breaks
- Limit your small breaks as much as you can, without denying your health and needs. The New York Times reports that it’s best to move around often to maintaintain high happiness and focus levels. Some experts recommend taking a lap at the office every 30 to 60 minutes. While staying active is important, avoid taking advantage- pop right back to work after your jaunt.
- Try taking a 5 minute walk every hour.
- Noisy Neighbors
- Open layout office spaces have noises that are impossible to avoid. If you cannot move to a quieter space, invest in ear plugs or turn up the background noise in your earphones. If these ideas don’t work, discreetly visit with a supervisor and ask for office support.
- Try asking your manager, “I find that working in a noisy environment is affecting my work productivity, is there a quieter area where I can move?”
- Not So Mindful Music
- Although some find background music a helpful resource, others find it a distraction. Research organizational policy. Consideration for others impacts productivity and collaboration. So, if you find that music is helpful to relieve stress, focus on music that is instrumental. Some musicians cover popular music in instrumental forms, but be aware that this could also be distracting when thinking about the lyrics rather than work. Remember to keep headphones in your desk to avoid distracting colleagues!
- Consider one of the playlists on the Focus genre from Spotify.
- Surveys confirm lunch is vital.
- While a long lunch takes you away from your focus, it is a good practice if you can refocus again.
- Keeping food at your desk can also be distracting. Some health sites suggest putting food away to prevent munching. Not only will you be distracted, it can cause mindless eating.
- Try keeping a small baggie of healthy snacks inside your desk.
- Use it for emergencies and try staying true to specific lunch hours.
There are many distractions in the office, some more difficult to ignore than others. Limiting yourself to the fun and stress-free activities and interactions will help you stay focused for the new year.
Sharon Schweitzer and Esther Sanchez co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is an award-winning entrepreneur, cross-cultural trainer, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, (3rd printing), was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.
Esther Sanchez is a Fall 2017 Cross-Cultural Communication intern with Access to Culture. She is currently attending the University of Texas at Austin as a Journalism major and working to earn a minor in Middle Eastern Studies and a certificate in Computer Science. She plans to use these skills to tell stories through virtual reality from around the world. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.