Everyone has had at least one bad day at the office when he couldn’t get any work done, mainly due to interruptions. While it is true that most of the things found in an office building are there to help people finish their tasks faster and more efficiently, at times they also represent the source of distractions.
Let’s review the top 10 most common things that hinder you from getting work done at a good speed.
1. The overall office environment
What most employers fail to understand is that without providing a comfortable office environment for their employees, they should never expect performance. Simple things, such as the chairs you select for the office area, are enough to make some employees sit uncomfortably or experience aches, which will inevitably distract them from the task at hand. In addition to office furniture, the temperature and lighting are two other important factors that decide the comfort level and often lead to headaches, tired eyes or increase the frequency of breaks.
2. Noise is the arch nemesis of easily-distracted employees
All people have problems concentrating on the tasks that need to be done when they are tired and start hearing the conversations of their colleagues, noises coming from the street, one-sided conversations, etc. The easiest way to deal with the distracting noise would be to close the door or window to your office. Does this mean that employees who don’t work in an office are doomed? No, and in fact they can mask the noise by using a professional set of headphones or placing a white noise machine in their vicinity.
3. Unexpected or rude visits
There is nothing more annoying than the situations when your colleagues decide to take a break and start chatting right next to your desk. What do you do when you are trying to play the role of the nice co-worker that everyone likes? If that irritates you a lot, then you can take a small break with them as well, time during which you can calm down and explain to them nicely that they are distracting you. If you prefer a more radical solution, then you can always try to get the point across quickly and finish the conversation faster. The latter idea is usually very efficient for the times when you receive an unexpected visit from one of your clients.
4. The truth is that everyone hates meetings
In some industries, meetings (both scheduled and unexpected) are a necessary evil. However, the reality is that frequent meetings are also a main cause of employees’ distractions as they practically make it impossible to allocate sufficient time for finishing actual work tasks. Luckily, this issue can be easily solved if you book meetings and tasks in your calendar and stick to it.
5. Bad consequences don’t mean the end of the world
More often than not, people feel compelled to answer the phone or reply to an email because otherwise they expect negative consequences. But, let’s be honest for a second: while a partner or client is expecting a fast response, that does not mean you should answer him right away. When you can answer immediately, do so. However, when you have something to do, then rest assured nothing bad will happen if you call back in a couple of hours.
6. The phone
Even though it might appear convenient to solve some office tasks by talking on the phone, this is only an illusion. Constantly answering non-urgent calls or making calls to deal with your task practically means that you are allowing yourself to be interrupted. In order to solve the problem, the best thing you can do is to set time frames during which you are not taking calls unless they are urgent. Moreover, you can setup a voice mail to inform your callers when they can reach you or when you will be able to get back to them.
7. Access to the internet
Because we’re living in an internet dominated age and most companies have taken their business online, the internet connection has become of utmost importance. However, having access to the internet also means a bundle of distractions, especially if you have accounts on social networks. While you think that there is nothing wrong with watching a video on YouTube or checking your friends’ tweets or Facebook posts, statistics say otherwise. More exactly, research shows around $120 millions lost in productivity.
8. The cluttered desks and your motivation to work
Having dozens of papers spread around the desk is a disturbing sight that can break even the most motivated employee. First of all, when everything is just laying around carelessly, you will not know where to start. Secondly, even if you do get started you will soon tire of browsing through all papers and identifying the urgent ones that need to come in that day. A solution in this case is to setup various priority folders system.
9. You cannot have more than one to-do list
Having one to-do list that you update on a daily basis can help you keep the work organized. However, when you make several lists on the important thing you need to take care of that day, they are no longer useful, but rather a distraction. From a broad perspective, making more than one list means that you are constantly reinventing the priority and urgency level of the tasks. At the same time, having more lists permits you mind to jump around from one thing to another instead of focusing on solving the tasks one by one.
10. At times, you can be your own distraction!
Even though you have implemented a great system to keep work organized according to priorities, you may find yourself wandering off. According to organizational psychologists, this usually occurs in people who are bored with what they are doing. If such moments occur rarely, then the best thing you can do is to find and work on a single project that you consider interesting. However, if your mind wanders off regularly, perhaps it is time to consider changing your career.