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The 5 Biggest Workplace Distractions and How to Avoid Them


Many of us don't realise that just because you've turned up to work doesn't mean that you're actually being productive...

That's because a lot of us confuse punctuality with productivity.

The 5 Biggest Workplace Distractions and How to Avoid Them

We begin to think that because we've showed up to work, we're acting productively with our time. But the truth is the workplace is filled with various distractions and obstacles that get in the way of you doing real work.

And if you don't find a way to manage those distractions, it's likely that you're never going to reach your career potential.

Check out the 5 biggest workplace distractions and how you can avoid them below.

The 5 Biggest Workplace Distractions

#1: Emails 

A normal 9 to 5 worker receives an average of 121 emails a day. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to see the majority of us checking our emails regularly throughout our work hours.

The 5 Biggest Workplace Distractions and How to Avoid Them

The problem with constantly checking your emails is not only does it take a few minutes to return to your work but it takes quite a long time to fully refocus upon the task you were doing - 23 minutes to be precise. 

Now imagine you're checking your emails a few times in an hour, you're never allowing yourself to become fully focused in the work you're doing. This means that your work is never going to be a representation of what you're capable of because you haven't given it your undivided attention.

How to Avoid this Distraction

Firstly, we don't advocate never checking your emails because they're likely to contain some valuable information.

However, we do suggest that you should create a schedule for checking your emails.

It's up to you how regularly you feel like you need to be checking your emails. It could be 5 times a day or it could even be just once before your shift.

By having a schedule, you're allowing yourself to become fully immersed in your work for a longer period of time. This leads to you producing higher quality work and performing better at your tasks.

#2: Meetings

Unless they're compulsory or you know they are going to provide you with some valuable information, we suggest you steer clear of attending meetings.

Surveys have shown 9 out of 10 employees admit to daydreaming throughout meetings whilst less than half of the attendee's can recall information from the meeting.

Furthermore, 25% of the content within a meeting is filled with irrelevant and unrelated information

The 5 Biggest Workplace Distractions and How to Avoid Them

Meetings tend to interrupt productive work and as previously mentioned it takes time for one to refocus upon their work after being distracted. 

On average, a 9 to 5 worker spends 30 hours in meetings every month. Just think about how much you could get done if you worked diligently for 30 extra hours a month! 

How to Avoid this Distraction

Whilst we recognise that not everybody can skip their meetings as they might be compulsory or provide beneficial information for you.

We do advise that if there are any voluntary meetings that you know are not going to provide you with any real insight or benefits than try using that time to get some work done!

#3: Social Media

There's a reason why 28% of employers have confessed to firing an employee due to their social media usage. 

The 5 Biggest Workplace Distractions and How to Avoid Them

On average, we tend to spend up to a quarter of our work day scrolling through our social media feeds. 

By the end of the month, this is equivalent to losing several workdays for just scrolling through your phone.

Just imagine how much work you could get done in that time, undoubtedly you could make real progress in your career by spending that time being productive. 

How to Avoid this Distraction

To avoid this distraction, try to do the following:

  • Turn off your notifications - By doing this, you're not going to be distracted as you enter your flow state
  • Track the time you spend browsing social media - By tracking the time you spend on social media, you can take steps to decrease the time if you think it's excessive. 

#4: Colleagues

The majority of us are guilty of spending abit too much time chatting to and socialising with our colleagues.

The 5 Biggest Workplace Distractions and How to Avoid Them

Whilst this may be beneficial to reset our brain and take a well deserved break, often it tends to be excessive and cuts into the time we could be spending doing something productive. 

How to Avoid this Distraction

If you feel like you're constantly getting distracted by your colleagues, opt to work in an isolated environment. Better-yet, if possible try to work from home; this way you can control your environment and stay disciplined.

If it's not possible to isolate yourself, politely let your colleagues know that you're trying to be productive today, in most cases they're likely to respect that. 

#5: Office Noise

The last of our top 5 distractions is office noise. 

The University of Sydney found that 30% of workers in cubicles and 25% of workers in offices were frustrated with the noise in the workplace.

Not only can it affect your ability to concentrate but it can also increase stress and anxiety levels. Thus making it even harder for you to concentrate. 

The 5 Biggest Workplace Distractions and How to Avoid Them

How to Avoid this Distraction

If you're one of the 30% of workers who are frustrated with the levels of noise in their workplace, try having a chat with one of your supervisors or even your manager. Nearly everyone has suffered from a noisy environment distracting them so they'll be sure to understand.

Furthermore, if headphones are permitted in your workplace, investing in some high quality noise cancelling headphones could really improve your productivity. Especially if you're the type to listen to music whilst you work.


I hope that this guide will inspire you to have a closer look at your workplace and identify the distractions that are preventing you from being productive. Hopefully, you can use our tips to eliminate or reduce these distractions and continue to make strides in your career. Good luck!

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