6 Ways to Conquer Workplace Distractions

Humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish.

Yes, you read that correctly. Researchers in Canada studied brain activity and found that the average human attention span has fallen to eight seconds. A short attention span plus many distractions can make it difficult to concentrate at work. Distractions take up more than just a few seconds of your time; there's the distraction itself, the momentum lost, and the time it takes to say "where was I?" and restart the task, according to Edward G. Brown, author of "The Time Bandit Solution: Recovering Stolen Time You Never Knew You Had."

Will you be able to read through this whole article without getting distracted? Check out 6 ways to eliminate workplace distractions:

1. Invest in Headphones

Invest in a nice pair of headphones; bonus points for noise-canceling headphones. Being "plugged in" to your headphones shows others that you are in the zone and wish not to be distracted. With noise-canceling headphones, you don't even necessarily have to listen to music; but if you are interested in listening to some tunes, there are many focus playlists online that are great at keeping you on track. Stay away from songs with lyrics and stick with instrumental songs to avoid getting distracted by singing along.

2. Turn Off Technology

Ok, you don't have to actually turn your technology completely off, but use settings to eliminate distractions. A new email popping up on your computer screen or your phone vibrating from a new text can easily distract you from what you're working on. Log out of your email account or turn off any notifications that pop up. Cell phones often have a "do not disturb" setting that can be utilized. The do not disturb option usually lets you still receive communication from specified people, so you won't miss out on a message that your kids' soccer practice was cancelled.

3. Ask for an Email.

If you have a coworker who's notorious for interrupting you to give you assignments, ask them to email you their requests instead. Additionally, this will leave a paper trail to refer back to in the future and will ensure no details get lost. If the task still needs to be discussed in person, ask them to set up a meeting time with you.

4. Set up Personal Meetings

If you need to get something accomplished at a certain time, set up a meeting with yourself on your calendar. You wouldn't skip a meeting with other people, so give yourself the same respect. Not only does this keep you accountable to get things done, if your coworkers are able to access your calendar, they'll be able to see you are busy and hopefully leave you alone until the "meeting" is over.

5. Change Locations

If your office environment has too many incoming distractions and isn't fostering productivity, try out a new location on days you must accomplish a lot. Work from home, check out a local coffee shop, scope out a table in the office cafeteria, reserve a meeting room, or take advantage of whatever your office building has to offer.

6. Avoid Personal Distractions

It's human nature to need to give your brain a break, so accept that you need breaks and make them intentional. Mindlessly navigating over to your social media news feeds isn't doing you any favors. Plan breaks every hour or after you've finished the task at hand. Get up, away from your desk, and get some blood pumping. Once you've completed your break, you'll be more likely to stay locked into the next task you have to focus on.

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