7 Common Workplace Distractions & How to Avoid Them

With the eruption of swift technological devices and the world becoming a global village, it is increasingly becoming harder to focus on what is important. A survey done by Inc. indicates that distractions are costing companies millions of money in workplaces. It is paradoxical since we leave our homes to go to an office, which presumably should be a safe haven that allows you to get things done. You will be surprised to know that there are so many distractions in the workplace that can quickly turn your focus into an elusive great white whale. From external factors to pondering changes that could be made in your work environment from new chairs to suspended grid ceilings, it can be easy to let your mind wander. Want to know about the different distractions and how to handle them? Read on and learn more about common distractions and how to avoid them. 


workplaceAccording to statistics, smartphones are the biggest form of distraction in the workplace. Employees waste an average of 56 minutes per day or nearly five hours a week using their phones for non-work activities! They are either accessing sites blocked by their company, doing some online shopping, or playing mobile games. While it is okay to catch a breather from work, sadly, these activities are not done during break hours. Overcoming reliance on smartphones is hard; it requires both the employer and employee to look into the risks of smartphones lest they encroach on their personal life and productivity. 

How to avoid smartphone distractions: 

  • Establish distraction-free spaces in the office
  • Set up short breaks where employees can use their phones
  • Employees should take responsibility and turn off notifications, and set aside specific times to do work that requires deep concentration

Slack / Email

Slack and mail apps are tools designed to enhance productivity by promoting better communication and collaboration. Unfortunately, these tools can be the worst form of distraction if not managed properly. Just think of the number of emails that you receive in a day? A lot, right? Imagine if you spent the whole day answering emails? It would be impossible to get anything done. Try to manage your emails and only work on timelines. 

Computer going to sleep mode

Imagine analyzing a financial report on your computer with a physical one, and then voila, your screen goes to sleep mode. Now think about the impact if you have to do that every five minutes. If you are a Mac or PC user, you probably have noticed that if you don’t use your device for a minute or two, it becomes dim and then goes into sleep mode. 

It is a way to save power but any computer entering into sleep mode can be so distracting and annoying. In fact, it can cause you to make serious mistakes, especially when dealing with crucial tasks, or documents that require you to be keen and alert. Luckily, you can remove this distraction by managing your computer sleep cycle. You can check https://setapp.com/how-to/how-to-stop-mac-from-sleeping and learn how to schedule your sleep time rather than having your device sleep randomly. Other than this, learn other productivity hacks to help you work better on your device e.g using shortcuts. 

Interruption from colleagues

Let’s be honest; it is impossible to go a whole day without experiencing a tap on the shoulder for a request for help or gossip on trending news. It takes seconds to shift from powering your to-do list to calling it quits early and putting in overtime. These short interruptions from your colleagues might seem short, but have an impact on your workflow. Keep in mind that it takes an average of 25 minutes for human beings to refocus on original work after a distraction. To avoid interruptions from colleagues, you could simply;

  • Wear headphones- signals a passerby or colleague that you are busy
  • Change location. Your colleagues won’t interrupt you if they can’t find you
  • Set up an office time lock
  • Politely mention that you are unavailable for chat


Did you know that the other reason that you are thinking slowly and making mistakes on the job is due to hunger? When you are hungry, your blood sugar level drops, causing low energy levels resulting in fatigue. When you are tired, it is impossible to get any work done. On the other hand, when you are hungry, you are continuously distracted, trying to find something to eat. One thing to keep in mind is that nutrition is extremely critical for cognition; your brain cells require twice as much energy to run at peak performance. Avoid food with processed sugars and unhealthy fats. You also need to drink water and stay hydrated. Dehydration causes sluggishness and makes you susceptible to distractions.


There is one article published in the Harvard Business Review way back in 2017 titled, “ Stop the meeting madness.” It sounds a little bit harsh. However, after reading it, you will concur that it is time to go slow on meetings. Well, meetings are essential; they enable collaboration, creativity, and innovation. In fact, if done right, a meeting is the best tool to exchange information and foster relationships. The problems come when they become excessive and unnecessary. Every minute employees spend time in a wasteful meeting; it eats into their time for solo work. They lose focus on essential tasks and shift attention to a meeting that was neither necessary nor builds to their critical tasks. Choose a specific day of the week to hold meetings. In essence, don’t distract people with meetings; instead, allow them to work on their most important tasks most part of the week

Other tips on meetings: 

  • Ask yourself,” is the meeting necessary” can I communicate through other platforms
  • Create an agenda. Helps with saving time
  • Only invite critical employees to a meeting, i.e., those concerned. 
  • Keep it as short as possible 


If you are that boss that calls for a meeting every two seconds an email is sent, you might want to stop. It is okay to want your employees to be responsible for their acts. However, continually interrupting them by obsessing over every detail does more harm than good. Micromanagement drives a wedge between you and your employees; it causes unnecessary stress, anxiety, and hinders productivity. Allow job autonomy, trust that your employees are responsible enough to do what is right. Instead of distracting them with a meeting every two seconds, allow them to do their work.

Wrap up

The truth is nobody is completely attentive to work 100% of the time. Whether subtle or palpable, there are so many forms of distractions that we encounter. The first step towards beating distraction is acknowledging the different forms. Hopefully, this article has given you insights into the variations of distractions and how you can avoid or ignore them.

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Add Your Reply