Ditching the Distractions

May 7, 2015 | Blog

Photo credit: pixgood.com

Photo credit: pixgood.com

The communal or open plan office environment can be both the best and worst place in which to get work done. On the plus side, it’s an instantly collaborative situation where you can socialise with your colleagues and build solid working relationships – a busy, bustling hub of productivity. However, it can also be a source of huge distraction where you can fight to concentrate and get tasks completed. The team at CA have some choice pieces of advice for avoiding distractions and making sure that the office environment really works for you.

No gossiping

Whether you’re that way inclined or not, it only takes participating in a few seconds of office chit chat to give yourself the reputation of being happy to gossip. Beware of letting this happen as you’ll find yourself being approached every time there are some juicy details to divulge. There is a fine line between general chat, which is great thing to participate in, and flat out inappropriate gossip. Gossip is a huge time waster so avoid it like the plague!

Email etiquette

This is one of the biggest distractions in any kind of office. Emails come through all day long, and many of us are the type to check them as soon as they come in. This has a very detrimental effect on concentration and can make getting through even a simple task, harder than it needs to be. Of course, if you are waiting for an important, time-dependent email, by all means, keep a close eye. However, if that’s not the case, consider allocating email time slots, whereby you check your email at predetermined times. This way, you don’t even have to think about your emails until you’re on schedule to look at them and you can better focus on the task at hand. Furthermore, consider turning off your email alert sound on your phone to ensure there’s no chance of being distracted simply because an email came through.

Personal calls to your work phone

We all have personal lives, so at times, taking personal calls at work is necessary. However, it’s a good idea to ensure that personal calls go to your cell only (where you can more easily ignore and call back later, or even turn the phone off) than to your work or office phone. Of course, your family should have the option to call your work phone in an emergency but by keeping the personal and professional separate in this way, you can cut down on unnecessary distractions.

Learn to say no (in a nice way!)

Offices are about teamwork, of course, and stepping up to the plate to help out your fellow colleagues is an important part of that. However, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of becoming a ‘yes’ man (or woman). This can sap away your precious time so start considering things like assisting others, attending meetings and being cc’d on current issues more carefully. Do you have time to assist your colleague right now or would it be more convenient to bump the task until later? Do you really need to be in that meeting or is there ample attendance already? Learn how to be as helpful as possible but without adversely affecting your own work. Your job comes first, helping others is a close second, but second nonetheless. Ever tried to tell your boss you missed a deadline because you were helping someone else with something else…?

Take breaks

Breaks during your working day are so important. By taking regular breaks (and we don’t mean just getting up to refill your water bottle), you will be better prepared to avoid distraction, particularly noise-related ones. If you’re overworking yourself and sitting at your desk for too long at any one time, it becomes harder and harder to concentrate on your own piece of personal office space. Get out of the office for a stroll, go chill in an empty meeting room – whatever it takes to give you a little time to refresh.

Be organised

This doesn’t just mean a clutter-free desk (though we highly recommend having one!). It also means setting some time aside every morning, or at the end of each working day, to plan out the next day. If you’re aware of how your day is going to pan out (even if it doesn’t go quite according to plan) then you won’t find your mind wandering to what you have to get done and you certainly won’t suffer from that overwhelming feeling of having too much to do and too little time – a huge distraction.

Workplace distractions are one of the leading sources of profession-related stress. It’s crucial to both recognise it and deal with it to ensure you are getting the most out of your working environment.

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