Five distractions that are harmful to your productivity, and how to stay away from them

You are probably very familiar with this scenario. You sit down at your desk to begin your job, and you know you have assignments and projects lasting up to six hours, so you got to work early. You smile, knowing that your work will be done within those six hours, and you can go out on a date or spend some time at home with your family.

However, you decide to open your email inbox, and you see a notification from Facebook reminding you it is a friend’s birthday, or an inbox from your friend on Twitter. You think to yourself, ‘What is the harm in checking my account for updates while I’m at it?’

So you go ahead, check your account, like and retweet people’s updates, and before you know it, you check the time and find two hours have passed by – just like that. Now you are freaking out, all your free time is gone, and it looks like it will be another long day at the office for you.

If you have experienced this frustration, you are not alone. For you to overcome it, you need to identify and eliminate the distractions that creep up in your day and make you lose productivity. Here are some of them.

‘Urgent’ emails

You may have been caught up in a situation where a business associate or co-worker interrupts your productive day through a so-called ‘urgent’ email. You then stop what you are doing and do your best to respond to them and take time to solve their issues, but you then realize the email was not that urgent anyway.

Avoiding this will mainly involve sifting your inbox 80/20. You should also check your email twice a day at most, once in the morning (before you start work) and then in the evening before leaving the office. For any emails that are urgent to your goals, you can respond to them – but take care not to become sucked in trying to please everyone demanding your presence.

If the emails are overwhelming, you might consider an email marketing service that automates your responses, which also saves time.

Social media

It is not surprising to find out this is the biggest culprit in wasting people’s time. In fact, studies are increasingly showing that it is among the most prominent time sinks in the lives of Americans today. For instance, the average individual will waste about 3 hours on social media alone, which equates to about 21 hours every week – imagine what you could do within all those hours.

How do you avoid it though? First thing is deleting social media apps from your phone. If you happen to be using social media for business and cannot delete the apps, then disable all the notifications so that you do not get harassed by friends updating their statuses after every few minutes or hours.

If you are using Facebook, you can install the News Feed Eradicator, which blocks you from accessing the statuses from your friends on the app and reminds you to be productive.

Snap chatting, messaging and texting

Even though it seems harmless to respond to your significant other through a text message or a quick Snapchat, you should also know that things never end with that one message. Once you respond to them, it is very likely that you have roped yourself into a never ending loop of messages that last for thirty minutes to one hour, which are all unproductive and could easily be talked over a call lasting a much shorter time.

Avoiding this is simpler than you may think – simply involves using the Airplane mode on your phone. As you work, you can switch off the phone or put it in Airplane mode, then use your breaks in the day to respond to messages and calls.


You have probably heard of the saying that women can multitask and men cannot do it. Here is the truth of that matter though – the human brain was not designed for multitasking, no matter what gender you are. That means you must quit the idea of multitasking if you want to become more productive at your job.

Achieving this may seem challenging, but you can set timers for each task. This will assist you to set your focus on the job and finish it within the set limits of the time constraints. It will also stop you from being sidetracked and working on other things, since you also know you will have time later on to finish those tasks.

Talking to co-workers

By all means, it is good to be polite to your co-workers and find out how they are doing. However, as with all things, there needs to be a limit. When you are trying to be productive, talking to a co-worker is the worst mistake you can allow to happen. After all, how many times can you be interrupted by someone else, yet they may have no idea they are actually distracting you from achieving your goals?

It is like gambling in the best New Zealand casinos – if you do not know how to handle them well, they can become the biggest reasons for productivity fails.

Avoiding it is also easy. You can use a music playlist of jazz, classical or instrumental music (which has no lyrics, so that it does not distract you), which also lets someone know they need to think twice before they interrupt you. If the music is not a deterrent for them, yet they have nothing important to tell you, you can simply tell them to hold on to that information and discuss it during your break.

In this way, they will not interrupt you as much (unless it is very important information), and your productivity levels will not suffer because of them.

Final thoughts

It is very important that you maintain high productivity levels art work, but many people struggle when trying to reduce distractions in their workplace. Using these tips though, you will be able to handle them efficiently, and increase your overall output without compromising on other aspects.

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