5 Proven Strategies for Overcoming Distractions at Work

5 Proven Strategies for Overcoming Distractions at Work

Distractions can be detrimental to work productivity. Here are the proven ways of overcoming these distractions so we can focus on our work.

We all know the importance of concentrating on our work to get things done. Yet even with this knowledge we often let distractions rule us when we’re supposed to be working.

Maybe it’s the buzz of our smartphones telling us we have a text message. Perhaps we’re online, and we get a new email or a chance to chat with someone else. It can be a game we click on, or perhaps a YouTube video that you just can’t resist. It can be a new chapter in a fanfic you’re following or the latest news about your favorite celeb.

The losses caused by such distractions may seem negligible, but when you add the minutes you’ve lost dealing with such interruptions the overall effect can be massive. The average manager is actually interrupted in their work every 8 minutes. Employees also spend about 28% of their workplace hours having to deal with these interruptions. In a typical 8-hour workday, that’s more than 2 hours you could have used to be more productive.

So what are you supposed to do? You can overcome these distractions with the following strategies:

1. Foster a Workplace Environment that Discourages Distractions

You can start simply by closing your office door, or perhaps by donning noise-canceling headphones. Turn off your phone or at least put it on silent mode. You may want to find a more peaceful work area if you’re in an open office, where distractions tend to occur more frequently.

Most of us use computers for work, but the Internet can be very distracting. It’s very easy to just click on your browser bar to get to YouTube, and before you know it you’ve wasted an hour watching clips of cute kittens and puppies.

So you may want to get rid of that bookmark for nonessential websites, and perhaps you can try a website blocker app. Turn off your notifications, and don’t even think about letting your email inbox stay open all day.

2. Give Yourself 3 Goals Each Day

When you need to focus, it’s better if you can set yourself a set of doable tasks that you can concentrate on. A set of 3 tasks is certainly doable so that you’re not overwhelmed with a long list of tasks you will have to do for the week or for the month. List these 3 tasks on a sticky note, and set it where you can see it easily.

By doing this, you’ll learn to prioritize. You can list the other tasks on a separate list, and you can start on them only when you’ve done the top 3 tasks first. This gives you clear objectives to focus on, and you get a nice sense of satisfaction when you get these things done.

3. Focus on More Complex Tasks

Sometimes you can be distracted if the work you’re doing is boring or tedious. When you feel like you’re ready to work, such a feeling can dissipate when you’re forced to do simple boring stuff.

So when you set those 3 tasks for yourself, try to concentrate on those tasks that will engage you the most. These will be the tasks that will require your complete attention and focus. These will challenge your abilities, and when you’re engaged in such tasks you’re less likely to dwell on distractions.

Of course, you can’t avoid having to deal with the boring tedious stuff but reserve these tasks for when your mental energy level is down. If you’re feeling a bit tired or sleepy and you can’t really concentrate, that would be a great time to deal with stuff like reading and responding to email messages.

4. Set a More Urgent Deadline

Most people instinctively work at a pace to match the time period set for the work. So if you’ve set a longer time frame for a certain task, you may find yourself working at a leisurely pace. It’s at these times that your mind can then wander, or you’ll be tempted by the online game you’ve stumbled upon.

So set a more immediate deadline for yourself, and stick to it. Knowing that you have a deadline to meet can force your mind to focus on your work. Your deadline should be real, with real consequences so that you’re truly encouraged to work harder.

For example, your boss may have given you to complete certain tasks by 5 PM. But you may force yourself to concentrate better by setting the deadline to 3 PM—and telling your boss that you’ll get it done by that time. By doing so, you’ll have to face the consequences of breaking your word to your boss, which should encourage you to work with greater focus.

5. Handle Your Stress Properly

Stress is one of the biggest problems in the modern-day workplace. When you feel stressed, you’re not only exhausted and mentally drained. You’re also more prone to distractions. You’re less able to stay on track and your mind can drift.

So you need to find effective ways to deal with the stress you encounter every day. Some people get regular massages on weekends. Others get rid of stress by sharing a drink or a cup of coffee with friends at the end of the day. You should also get enough sleep, and perhaps you can try some meditation or breathing exercises at work to keep stress from overwhelming you.


You should be conscious about how distractions can keep you from your work so that you’re more able to focus on the tasks at hand. It’s about knowing yourself and finding the ways you’re vulnerable to distractions and then finding strategies to overcome your own weaknesses.

What you can’t do is to belittle the negative impact that distractions can have on your productivity. It may seem like you’ve wasted only a few minutes, but the reality is that you can end up wasting hours each day—and you can instead put those hours to better use!

Also, check out these 9 Simple Productivity Hacks for New Digital Nomads

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