What’s distracting you from work this week? (i)

Let’s face it, distractions are everywhere. It could take the form of desktop notifications or a colleague who stops to say hi and chats for one hour. It could simply be your children playing loudly in the background or an argument you had in the morning that affects your ability to concentrate later in the day.

Most distractions come either from the internet or from other people. Few offices have really private areas, except if you are a high level executive with a private office. In an office where everyone can drop by at any time, it’s easy to spend an hour chatting with the colleague who stops by your desk to wish you good morning. Distractions from the internet can be even harder to deal with. In a culture that fears missing out and constantly refreshes social media pages, it can be difficult to take a deep breath and stay offline to get meaningful work done.

A green chalkboard with the words "please do not disturb" written on it
Would this on my desk help?

Most people underestimate the impact of distractions on productivity. It takes on average, 25 minutes to return to a task following an interruption. Put another way, a 2 minute whatsapp interruption does not just cost you just 2 minutes but 2 minutes plus the 25 minutes you need to return to the incomplete task you were doing. If you are interrupted 10 times a day while working, you are losing 250 minutes every day to distractions. That’s four hours a day lost to chatty colleagues and watching videos of funny cats online. If you work 8 hours each day and take 1 hour for your lunch break, that leaves you only three hours out of eight to be productive.

Social media notifications
I will just check for a second.

Now that you have a better idea just how much productive hours you are losing to distractions every day, that blinking notification doesn’t seem so innocent, does it? Most of the distractions we encounter while working these days can be broken down into three categories.

  1. Distractions from the internet
  2. Distractions from coworkers and friends
  3. Distractions from the family

In May, I will be writing about how you can deal with each of these distractions in turn so you can stay productive. Be sure to check out each post as it comes out every Thursday for the rest of the month. You will learn some useful tips for staying focused when you need to get work done and hopefully get started becoming a less distracted version of you.

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