Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Workplace Distraction




Did you pay your electric bill? Did you put money on your kids lunch account? Did you turn off the hair straightener this morning? With a million things constantly running through our minds, it's easy to become distracted.


Most of our focus seems to fall on proactive things. But in some cases, it may be more beneficial to ask yourself what you should NOT be doing. As New York Times reported, a UC Irvine study found that a typical office worker gets interrupted every 11 minutes-yet it takes them an average of 25 minutes to get themselves back on their original task.  Continue reading to learn about the top 12 workplace distractions. And more importantly, how to eliminate them!

1.  NOISE
The problem: An open office works great for jobs that require a lot of communication, but not so much for a job that requires a lot of focus. In short, many different people having many different conversations. In a 2011 review from psychologist Matthew Davis found that an open office hurts creativity, attention spans and productivity. 

The fix: Headphones. Headphones not only block out background noise, they let others know that you are deep in focused work and prefer not to be bothered. You don't even have to play music. Although, studies show that music (without lyrics) helps to increase your focus and productivity. If music isn't your thing, try a white noise app. 

2. SMART PHONES
The problem: What a blessing. And a curse. Part of the reason we are so addicted to doing things such as checking our Facebook, Instagram and text messages is because it releases dopamine, the feel good chemical that makes us feel like we are completing tasks. The issue is that the pleasure dopamine provides is fleeting, which causes us to trigger those releases more often. We check our phones constantly, an easy way to flood our minds with dopamine. 

The fix: Turn off your notifications. You can silence all notifications from social media and text messages to help you remain focused on the task at hand. 

3. MULTITASKING
The problem: We all try to do it. Answer phone calls, taking notes, working on spread sheets. Maybe even ordering lunch. The thing is, our brains weren't made for multi tasking. When we attempt to multi task we distract ourselves. 
The fix: Priorities, priorities, priorities. Accept that you have to focus on one task at a time then make a list in order of importance. Quality is better than quantity. 


4. INTERRUPTIONS
The problem: Pretty self explanatory. You get interrupted. By someone wanting to spread some office gossip, ask what you brought for lunch, or ask basic questions. 
The fix: Create a strong signal when they needs to be no interruptions. A sign, wear your headphones, or flags can be used as a sign to not disrupt. 

5. CLUTTER
If your work space is cluttered, you already have things working against you. Your brain reacts to its surroundings. A cluttered space equals a cluttered mind. 
The fix: Clean up! Minimal clutter results in minimal distraction. Take away the risk of your brain getting fixated on something other than the task at hand. 


6. HUNGER
The problem: We all get hangry. So hungry that we get a little irritable. And when it comes to performance, you'd be hard pressed to find something more impactful than nutrition. Nutrition is extremely important for focus and cognition. You may not know that brain cells require twice the energy as the rest of the cells in our body! You may be quick to make a run to the vending machine or eat a candy bar you grabbed when you stopped for gas but after that sugary crash, you'll inhibit your ability for concentration, making the problem worse. 

The fix: Avoid unhealthy fat and sugar filled snacks. Fill up with foods rich in protein, healthy fats, fiber and complex carbs to maintain your maximum focus. 

7. ANXIETY
Roughly 18% of the population suffers from an anxiety disorder. Even before ir becomes a full blown problem, anxiety is a factor in everyone's life. One side effect of anxiety is its effect on concentration. Moderate to severe anxiety can make concentration almost impossible. 

The fix: Naps and mediation rooms are a great option, but not realistic for many. Small table top waterfalls are a great way to relax your mind. Forming positive work relationships can also help. Make sure you exercise, get enough sleep and eat healthy foods that are beneficial to the body. 


8. ATTENTION SPAN
According to a study that made headlines worldwide, humans now have shorter attention spans than a goldfish, all in thanks to our smartphone addictions. Even before we had our smartphones, concentration has always been limited. Your focus and concentration are not infinite. Think of your concentration like a fuel tank, if you fill it up in the morning and spend the better part of your day driving around aimlessly, you run out of fuel. 

The fix: Tackle your most important, highest leverage task first. Getting this out of the way creates relief and an early win for you, helping you to get through the rest of the day. 


9. EMAIL
The problem: Checking your email throughout the day may not seem harmful but it is a surefire way to torpedo your productivity. Although we have been taught that responding the emails is a way of professionalism, constantly checking and following different threads distracts us from the task in front of us. 

The fix: Designate time for email. Don't sporadically check your email throughout the day leaving yourself open for distraction. Designate a time, in the morning or evening to check and respond to all emails. Having a designated time helps focus on your other task throughout the day knowing that all emails will be responded to at a certain time everyday. 

10. DECISION FATIGUE
The problem: Pretty self explanatory. When you have to many decisions to make, your brain gets tired. Just like our concentration fuel tank, the ability to make decisions can run out, too. As The New York Times Magazine described, "No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can't make decision after decision without paying a biological price." The price? Irritability, inaction and lack of focus. 

The fix: Routine. Develop a routine that you can stick to. When you already know what to wear in the mornings, that's one less decision you have to make. Have your lunch ready and things you need in their place. Save some decision making for the work day ahead. 


11. MEETINGS
The problem: Talking about the work we should be doing instead of doing it. 
The fix: Hold better, more productive meetings. Designate a leader. One who makes sure everyone stays on topic. Keep a strict time limit. Write everything down. 


12. SOCIAL MEDIA
The big problem: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and more. There are so many habit forming apps that we are all guilty of using. We have become addicted to these apps, and it effects our brains in a very similar way as opioids. 
The fix: The best way to break a habit is to take away access to it. Put blockers on certain websites and apps during work hours taking the temptation for mindless scrolling away. 

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