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April 5, 2021 Adrian Zee

How to minimize distractions throughout the workday

Whether it’s an email or your phone tempting you to check Instagram, distractions can ruin the flow of your workday. One minute, you’re on your spreadsheet or word processor of choice, the next, you’re watching conspiracy theories about bigfoot on YouTube! If this sounds familiar, then this article is for you. I explain a few tips to avoid your daily distraction so you can finally finish that report. 

Productivity apps and browser extensions

There’s no shortage of productivity apps in the world. Everything from timers that block out websites or apps that gamify the goal of avoiding your phone. These apps and browser extensions can get you on track. 

One of my favourites is a category of Chrome extensions that eradicate your newsfeed on social media, such as LinkedIn Feed Blocker and News Feed Eradicator for Facebook. I can continue to use social media for messaging or searching for resources without being distracted by someone’s new job or some high school colleague’s engagement photos. 

Such apps or browser extensions can also create barriers to dissuade you from distracting habits. For example, if you compulsively check your email, blocking the website can reduce the temptation because you’d have to unblock it first. 

Block out time for distractions; block out time for work

On the topic of emails, receiving emails can be distracting as they remove you from your current task. Often, you feel a need to respond instantly. But one trick is to batch respond to messages— possibly in the morning, during lunch, and towards the end of the workday. The remainder of the time is room to get work done. 

In contrast, another tactic is to block time for work. If you know your most productive hours of the day, blocking off this time means you won’t be stuck in meetings. Instead, said meetings could take place during the times you’re generally less productive. 

Get rid of distractions from your work environment 

Your work environment is essential to how you work. Both your office and your home work setting can have different challenges and benefits. For example, you’ll likely have colleagues coming up to chat about their weekend or a team member dropping by for a quick question at the office. At home, the challenge maybe your children, pets, or the television. Although there’s no perfect fix, moving to an area of your office or home where people won’t expect to find you can reduce the number of drop-bys. Or, at home, you could create a home office and communicate to family members to avoid disturbing you during certain hours. 

Our phones are also a significant distraction. Although apps that block your phone use are great, it’s even better to physically distance yourself from your device. This means putting it in a different room or at someone else’s desk. As a result, you won’t instinctively grab your phone to check for new notifications or end up on social media. 

Mornings often have fewer distractions 

Many people stand by coming into work early because they can get some tasks done before the day begins. “Morning people” may roll into the office or log in as early as 7:00 AM, work for two hours and then start meetings and chit-chat with colleagues as everyone arrives at 9:00 AM. 

Additionally, offices are usually quieter in the mornings, so you won’t find yourself having trouble concentrating as the cubicle beside you yells into their phone, or someone else is having a conversation with another coworker. 

Distractions come and go throughout the day. Hopefully, this article has provided some tips on how to reduce some of them!

Adrian Zee

Adrian Zee is a freelance writer and a student at Osgoode Hall Law School. Previously, he studied management and writing at Western University and worked in the data & analytics industry. Adrian is also a part-time food writer and photographer at DailyHive/DishedTO.