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10 Quick Tips for Avoiding Distractions at Work

10 Quick Tips for Avoiding Distractions at Work
Executive Summary The average employee is getting interrupted 50 to 60 times per day, and most of these interruptions are unimportant. As a result, people are spending little time in what psychologists call "the flow state", a space where we're most productive.


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Distraction at Work

Distraction at Work

Distraction at work has increased manifold. The reasons can be anything from shrinking office spaces, to open office culture that promotes 'visual noise' or even to push-notifications and instant messaging apps.

These distractions are leaving people more stressed out and also cause a loss in overall productivity.




Minimize your follow-ups

Minimize your follow-ups

Most of our email is replied on the spot and has incomplete information, which leads to a lot of back and forth dialogue.

To minimize this, reply at a suitable time when you can provide sufficient details, clear action items, due date or deadline if any, and maybe an alternative.



Mindless Scrolling

Mindless Scrolling

We keep checking email, instant messages in our smartphones or office PC, and even social media, whenever we get the urge or any new notification.

Allotting specific times to check your phone's messages and email, like in a two to three-hour intervals, can boost your productivity by 40%.



Signaling That You Are Busy

Signaling That You Are Busy

Use some visual aid like a pair of headphones to signal to your colleagues that you'd rather not be disturbed during that time.



Calendar-Time Booking

Calendar-Time Booking
It's not a good practice to block time on other people's calendars without first discussing or getting buy-in.
You can block your calendars in such a way that others who want your time only have a certain time window to book, leaving the rest of the time for your work that needs focus.



Productive Meetings

Productive Meetings

Close all loops in a meeting, taking care of actionable points, further steps to be taken, responsibilities assigned and due date decided.



No "Reply Alls"

No "Reply Alls"

Don't use the Reply All feature, as it is less noisy to only email people who need to be informed.



A Third Place

A Third Place

If there is too much distraction at your main office desk, opt for a third space to do your focus work, in the office, a cafe or even at home if possible.



Push Notifications

Push Notifications

Turn off all your push notifications from your smartphone and only check for any new update at your own time, manually.



Airplane Mode or DND

Airplane Mode or DND

Newer versions of smartphones have a built-in Do Not Disturb feature that limits your phone buzzes to only the essential contacts.

You can also turn on the airplane mode feature to silence everything.



Bureaucracy Blues

Bureaucracy Blues

If possible to implement, strip away the unnecessary approval layers, which are the cause of delays, paperwork, and poking.



Seemingly Urgent Work

Seemingly Urgent Work

Urgent but not-so-important work is one of the leading causes of distraction, as the unanswered phone and unread email look like work but actually pull us away from real, deep work which could be productive.




The philosophy of working "smart"

... is to maximize your productivity when you are working so that you can get more stuff done in shorter periods of time.

By working smarter, you'll find yourself with more time in th...

Find the to-do list app that work for you

The best one for you depends entirely on your working style and personal preferences.

You can use a physical notebook around everywhere you go, but it's easier to use a to-do list app or tool that syncs across all your devices. That way, you can access your to-do items whenever and wherever you need to, whether you're at your desk, in a meeting, or on a business trip.

Prepare in advance

Write out your to-do list the day before:

  • You'll free your time to dive right into your to-do list in the morning - one of the most productive times of day.
  • It can help you spot obstacles ahead of time and prepare accordingly.
  • Knowing what you have going on well in advance could help you relax and sleep better the night before.

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Asynchronous communication

There are mainly two ways to communicate within a company: synchronous and asynchronous communication. While the second type has always been widely practiced, as face-to-face meetings or any other ...

Real-time communication drawbacks

While real-time communication inside of a team might lead to solving faster some issues, it also has various disadvantages. 

For instance, having your colleagues come to ask you questions to which you feel pressured to answer on the spot leads to you being continuously interrupted, which results in being less productive and feeling stressed or even getting a burnout, as you try to do everything in proper time.

The asynchronous workplace

When the employees are provided with control as to when they are willing to communicate with their co-workers, there are many advantages that emerge. 

For instance, having the freedom to decide exactly how your working day should look like leads to more satisfied employees as well as to better communication within the team. Further benefits vary from feeling less stressed due to better planning to greater transparency and more efficient work.

Getting an early start

Getting an early start

Plan your morning the night before and stick to your plan. 
If a new task comes in that isn’t 100% urgent, designate a time that you’ll work on it uninterrupted or try to delegate the probl...

Deciding where to work

  • If you know you’re more likely to work from home, invest in comfortable furniture; you feel good it will inspire you to get work done.
  • If you want to join a local co-working space but are intimidated by the price point, ask about smaller memberships to start.

Prioritizing tasks

Don’t let your skepticism about productivity hacks get in the way of finding a technique that suits you and helps you get things done.
If you’re still having a hard time identifying priorities, try working backward by identifying work that’s definitely not a priority. Eliminate those items and assess what’s left.