How to Create and Maintain a Distraction-Free Workday

Sometimes, it seems as though workplaces have been designed to break our focus. Even when you’re “snowed under” with work, most employees are still likely to check their emails and social media accounts or to spend time day dreaming about that vacation they need. Distractions such as these are both stressful and costly. According to the most recent research, it takes an average of 23 minutes for a person to fully regain his or her focus on a task after being distracted. In fact, U.S. workers waste about 25 percent of their time, which is estimated to cost their employers a staggering $997 billion a year. In this article, we will identify common distractions that we face at work, and examine strategies for managing, or even eliminating, them altogether.

The Amount of Time Wasted at Work on Distractions

Nitro Blogs has reported a research study, The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance, showing that not only does it take nearly a half hour to regain one’s focus on a task after being interrupted, that because of these interruptions, returning to the work will take 50 percent longer to complete and will contain 50 percent more errors. The paper goes on to describe the way processes of functioning such as multitasking, reduce the human IQ by 15 points. Furthermore, MIT researchers reported figures showing that when employees take their coffee breaks at the same time, due to the effects of caffeine as well as the time spent distracted from their work duties, customer interaction time subsequently fell 20 percent among the lower achieving workers, and 8 percent among the higher achieving individuals.

Things We Can Do While at Work to Curb Distractions

Checking Smartphones for messages is a difficult habit to avoid and one that may be partially justified in some cases, for instance, if you happen to be concerned about being notified of an urgent matter or of a life-threatening emergency of some kind. So that you can safely turn off your phone and lock it inside of a drawer, it may be helpful to ensure that children and school officials, for example, have your work number extension, so that if something comes up, they will be able to reach you before your break. Another way to avoid the loss of working time, as it involves your co-workers is to consider, what is being referred to as ‘building a wall,’ as a way to block out excessive socializing and chatty employees who interrupt you and make it difficult to concentrate, says U.S. News. You may be able to offset this social separation after work by throwing office parties or by simply taking co-workers out to lunch. By adhering to this new social strategy, you should be able to repair any damage made to your co-worker’s feelings or sense of ego by replacing simple chit chat with quality time, and while showing them what a wonderful and charming person you really are.

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