I trust your week has been great. I was able to complete a project recently and that inspired today’s post. Thanks to my colleagues. Preparing the write-up was pretty interesting and enlightening and I will be sharing that with you although on a different level. Now back to the topic; managing workplace distractions. There is the possibility of being distracted at work for various reasons and it may affect your productivity and safety at work. Workplace distractions may lead to fatigue, confusion, restlessness, lack of concentration, confusion and forgetfulness. Let’s take a look at some major distractions we may encounter at work;
- Conversations with coworkers
- Technology; to include phones, emails, etc.
- A micromanaging supervisor
- Too many meetings
- Change within your organization
Before I go on, it will be important for you to note that there may be mental distractions you could encounter at work. It could be from an internal or external source. Internal in the sense that it may be that you are worrying too much about the things you have to do in a day and then you panic. External sources could be from any of the distractions I earlier listed. An example is having to deal with too many meetings.
I will now suggest practical ways to help manage these workplace distractions to avoid following consequences.
- Conversations with Coworkers
Your colleague has something interesting to tell you, but you have something really urgent to do and don’t want to come off as being rude. The best way to handle this situation is to come out clean. Let him/ her know that you have a deadline to meet and that as soon as you are done you may be glad to have a chat. The truth really never hurts anyone.
Sometimes workers gossip in the office and this may become a distraction. While I don’t encourage gossiping, it could just be a current workplace issue. Try as much as possible to get your work done and reduce any form of worrying that may occur as a result of your failure to meet up with time lags.
Technology has become important in every work environment. These days companies have meetings through technological means and the use of social networks where necessary. However, the use of technology in the workplace may become a distraction if not properly managed. This includes; phones, emails, the internet, and so on.
From studies, nearly 71% of people answer an IM notification within 2 seconds and over 41% respond to an email that’s only 15 seconds old.
Phone/ Email use;
- Change your notification settings to sooth your preference (it shouldn’t be distracting)
- Limit the number of devices you receive messages through
- Dedicate a time of the day (morning, afternoon) to read and respond to emails or messages
- Don’t answer personal calls during work hours and tell your family and friends about this
- Avoid using the internet for non-work related matters
- A Micromanaging Supervisor
A supervisor that micromanages you may gradually turn into a distraction at work. It may be advisable to keep such supervisor regularly updated on the status of your tasks. Frequent communication will reduce the urge to micromanage you. Also, this will help make your supervisor realize that you can be independent as this is a soft skill required of every employee. It is also good for you to have a good rapport with your supervisor as much as possible.
- Too Many Meetings
Meetings can become distracting as well, especially where there are too many to attend, conflicting dates or you don’t think you need to attend the meeting in the first place.
According to Ask.com, 24% of survey respondents complained about spending more time in meetings talking about work than actually doing it.
Here are ways to prepare for meetings to avoid distractions that may arise and help you feel organized.
- Prioritize your work and create a better routine to avoid worrying
- Clear your work area to have maximum concentration before hand
- Prepare ahead of time for a meeting and know what your obligations are
- Kindly decline attendance of a meeting if you think that you shouldn’t be involved and you have other pressing matters to attend to
- Properly schedule meetings and ensure that you have adequate time to prepare for the next
- Conduct regular walk- through to observe your behaviors and conditions
- Ensure micro-breaks to help step away for a few minutes to recharge, stretch, and refocus
- Structure repetitive work into stages or sections instead of a long run of continuous work
- Change in your organization
Transformation within your company may lead to distractions resulting to stress and uncertainty. You should become aware of the situation and make it a conscious effort to minimize such distractions you may be going through. Become aware of your situation and the changes going on in your company. Try to make things align with your work life and blend in.
While trying to reduce any form of workplace distraction, other suggestions that may help are;
- Talk to your supervisor, employer, or human resource personnel
- Look out for other co-workers, what may be a distraction to you may be the same for them, so help each other resolve issues
- On your part, don’t invite a colleague to a meeting where you know that he/she shouldn’t be involved
- If you can’t work while listening to music, then please avoid it
It takes determination to minimize or manage distractions at work. It is important for you to make it a conscious effort because it will help improve your productivity at work and reduce chances of performing unsafe acts at work.
What other distractions do you face at work and what do you do to manage it? Please feel free to share.
Have a great week ahead!
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