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Workplace Distractions That Affect Productivity

You must have heard or perhaps even said on some days that "there are just not enough hours in a day to do all you wanted to get done”.

In the next 3 minutes it will take you to read this article, chances are you'll probably check your phone, answer a text, switch to your laptop to read an email from your boss or glance at the Facebook or Twitter messages popping up in the corner of your screen. You may also hear some crosstalk about a colleague's weekend plans or a co-worker may stop by your desk for a quick question.

For many of us, our most days are a fight between completing our to-do list and the distractions that take us away from achieving our goals. A growing body of scientific research is pointing to an "epidemic of overwhelm" -- a phrase coined by David Rock, author of a book and a Psychology Today blog entitled "your brain at work". Workplace distractions are common, but there are ways to handle them or avoid them altogether.

Although various researches and surveys differ in the in the numerical importance but here are 10 common distractions worth pondering when you go to work tomorrow!

1. Have a Plan – Prioritize – Post Deadlines

If you react to whatever comes across your desk in spontaneous fashion, rather than developing a plan and to-do list, you’ll be constantly distracted and feel that you are not accomplishing anything. Some tasks will take as long as you give them. So put a deadline on each task – not only when it will be finished, but also how much time you will allocate.

2. Block Time Slots

If there’s project to be done, it’s essential to put aside a block of time on your calendar to handle it. After all, if you don’t schedule your own time, someone else will. But if you schedule time, you can now say you’re busy when asked.

3. Doing it All Yourself

Just because you are a leader doesn’t mean you are the right person to do everything. Take another look at your to-do list. Are there items on the list you can hand off to someone else? What are the items that maybe shared with others.

4. Perfectionism

We all want to do a perfect job – feeling productive – but because of one small detail that doesn’t feel quite right - you may have succumbed to the law of diminishing returns. Perfection is an elusive goal, David Rock says; focus on excellence, which is achievable – and move on.

5. Sense of Urgency

You feel compelled to answer every e-mail, text message, tweet, or status update immediately on your many electronic outposts. Or you keep checking to see if someone has responded to your latest e-mail, text message, tweet, or status update. Meanwhile, you may not be getting much work done. Urgent matters grab your attention, and you flip from one to the other, with each new e-mail or phone call, like a ricocheting pinball. Schedule times to check your emails during the day or use your breaks.

6. Open-door Policy

You are focused, in the groove, when somebody drops by to chat but availability doesn’t always mean accessibility. To get a handle on this distraction, be cordial and say that you are busy and will be able to talk later – be specific on time though. Harvey Shachter (Globe & Mail Article) states; “to get a handle on this distraction, I have one rule I share with those around me: My door is always open … unless it’s closed.”

7. Technology & Social Media

This echoes the previous distraction, because technology diverts you from actual work, such as when you surf the Web, endlessly seeking information. Between the Internet, cellphones, facebook, instant chats - there are so many stimulants in today's workplace; it's easy to see how one can get side-tracked. Schedule a break to look at any non-work related tasks so your work productivity is not affected.

8. Too Many Meetings/ Conference Calls

Not all meetings are necessary, or require your presence. “If you can find a way to avoid the unnecessary meetings, you’ll have more time to do the necessary work.

9. Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking is something that is often touted as the key to success. However, there is a lot of research out there that points to the idea that multi-tasking may actually worsens the quality of work that we accomplish. It can also very easily take us off course. It’s important to multi-task sparingly. Your work will most likely improve the more that you focus/ the less that you multi-task.

Workstation /Workspace

Is your workspace designed for health and comfort? Steelcase (Office Furniture Manufacturer) found that individuals who received ergonomics training and used adjustable chairs had an average increase in productivity of 17.8 percent! If possible, invest in a chair that can adjust to your body, or use cushioning to find that perfect fit. Raise or lower your computer monitor. If you feel stifled in your current work environment, try using a conference room or temporary office space or work remotely to get your creative juices flowing. Make small changes to increase your comfort and productivity.

These distractions that affect everyone, but by following some of these tips, you may just see a decline in the distractions and improvement in your productivity.

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