5 ways to reduce distractions at work

May 26, 2022

Do you ever feel like you go to look at your phone and suddenly 30 minutes have gone by? Or that you can't finish an assignment because people are talking (to each other or to you)? Maybe trying to wade through the mountain of emails you have is stopping you from any sense of productivity. You're not alone. People are up to five times more productive when they reach a "flow state," according to research by McKinsey. But that flow state isn't simple to achieve. The following are five ways you can help reduce distractions to help you and your fellow employees be more productive.

1. Bring snacks
It may sound silly, but when your blood sugar drops and you get hangry, it's hard to focus on anything except where your next meal is coming from. Alternatively, a heavy lunch might make you sleepy and unable to get anything done. Meet in the middle and keep healthy snacks at your desk to curb hunger and allow you to put your focus on the task at hand.

2. Clean up your workspace
This is another simple one. A messy desk equals a messy mind. This goes for your desktop, too. If your screen has loose documents scattered all over the place, you'll waste time finding what you're looking for or remembering what you've already completed. If you have organized files, your processes will be seamless. As far as your desk, keep clutter off of it and use folders to keep track of papers. You'll see the difference quickly.

3. Silence your notifications
Deloitte reports that the average person checks their phone 52 times a day. That's 52 times that you're pulling your attention from work to see what just lit up on your home screen. Is it an Instagram like? Someone sending a meme? Maybe an app encouraging you to play a game? Or a food delivery service offering a discount code (for the 100th time that week)? Using Do Not Disturb or similar features will silence notifications that don't matter or aren't timely. Your phone is a productivity killer.

4. Schedule breaks
Having a break to look forward to will prevent you from feeling like you need to take a couple minutes to yourself, well, every couple of minutes. If you know that you're going to take a breather in 20 minutes, you'll be able to better focus during that time because you need to get things done. Rather than saying "I'll just take a break now" instead of a scheduled time doesn't allow for any structure.

5. Surround yourself with productive people
While you want to be personable with your colleagues, there's no need to chat for hours on end. Other productive people won't have time for that either, so by sitting yourself next to other hard workers, not only will you not have chatter in the background, you won't need to worry about it pulling you from your own work either.