How do you deal with distractions in the workplace?

how to deal with distractions in the workplace

Udemy for Business surveyed US workers in 2018 about distractions in the workplace. More than half (54%)  said that their performance is not as well as it should be because of workplace distractions. Half of them think that they are significantly less productive. The top two distractors mentioned were chatty coworkers and office noise. They also indicated that open office layout and digital distractions are affecting the ability to focus.

Even if you don’t work on an office setting distractions are affecting your productivity too. Here are some tips to avoid them.

How to avoid distractions in the workplace

  • Know when your focus and creativity levels are higher and plan to do your most difficult tasks during that period. Block that time in your calendar and notify everybody that you are not available unless it is an emergency. 
  • If you are a morning person, try to come earlier to the office and take advantage of the quiet space. If you are a night owl, you can stay later to tackle those tasks.
  • When you need to focus on an important task while everybody else is present, set some rules. Let everybody know in a polite way that you need some “Do not Disturb” time.
  • Create the perfect environment, avoiding distractions. Turn off all notifications, chats, and social media. 
  • Set specific periods to interact with business emails and social media.
  • Keep your work area clean and organize to avoid visual distractions.

More tips to manage distractions

Regardless of how hard you try, somebody or something will distract you. There are a few more things that you can do. For example, learn how to manage distractions like emails and office noise. Also, turn off the emails notification and use blocks of time to work with them. Use headphones to cancel the noise, or have a sign to tell people that you would like to not be disturbed during that time.

Also, remember that having a good night’s sleep and healthy eating habits will help you to have the energy to concentrate. Find your own trick, and keep the focus!

Do you need 5S in the office?

Have you ever think about 5S in the office? There is no doubt that sometimes offices are scary.  There are too many things to do, and it feels that no time to do them.   It is easy to feel overwhelmed, especially if it is cluttered and neglected.  There are many benefits to getting organized. Offices are a great place to practice 5S.  

The following are signs that you need 5S in the office.  

  • Office workers spend too much time searching for information or missing documents. 
  • Folders and other documents piled on your desk
  • Documents on top of cabinets
  • The filing cabinets have documents that you keep just in case, or things that you know are duplicates.
  • Your desk drawers contain a mix of items, from snacks to old pens, to things borderline trash.
  • Your office or cubicle is a mini supplies room.

I want to share with you some tips for 5S in the office.  Let’s see them one step at a time.

Sort – When in doubt, move it out.  

What do you need to do your job?  Needs are things that are necessary to perform the job tasks.  You only keep what you need to accomplish your job.

  • Information regarding how long documents are stored and the official storage location for them is contained in the company document retention policy.   
  • Empty all your desk drawers, file, and storage cabinets and go over all the items inside.  Relocate what does not belong to the appropriate place.
  • Remove documents that by policy, you don’t need to keep any more or another person or department should keep.  Check that they have a copy before trashing or destroying the documents.
  • Try to go digital for everything you don’t need to keep a hardcopy.
  • Move out of your office or cubicle all the extra office supplies you keep.

Set in Order – A place for everything and everything in its place!

  • Create electronic folders to file those documents that you need to have, but not necessarily need a hardcopy.
  • If it is possible, move furniture, filing documents and small equipment like desk printers in such a way that follows the information flow.  
  • Assign a drawer to one type of things only, for example office supplies or personal items.
  • Those files and other items that you use more frequently should go closer to you.  
  • Think about how you are going to organize the files in the cabinets, and how you will divide the documents in sections.  Use names that are pertinent and easy to understand.   
  • Remove safety hazards such as materials blocking aisles, doorways and exits.

Shine – Make inspect and clean part of your daily routine.

  • Clean all furniture and cabinets inside and out using appropriate tools and supplies.
  • Inspect while you clean.  
  • Repair or request repair for what is not quite in good condition, like missing screws for handles.
  • Clean your computer keyboard and desk printer.

Standardize – Follow the standards daily, success is a habit, not an act.

  • Set clear expectations with clear rules and polices that includes daily activities and frequency for non-daily activities.
  • Non-daily activities should include regular audits to ensure everybody follows the set rules.
  • Update or create the retention files policy and create an easy to follow job-aid to help the entire team to understand and follow it.
  • Make official all the temporary markings for your file cabinets and desk.
  • Establish minimum and maximum quantities for all items in the supply room.
  • Make 5S part of the on-boarding training for new employees.
  • Recognize and reward achievements in the 5S Program.
  • Have a bulletin board for all 5S activities, including recognition.

Sustain – Cleaning and organizing is a practice, not a project. Make 5S part of your daily routine.

  • Ensure everybody participates of the 5S Program
  • Do daily walks to ensure everybody is following the rules.
  • Make 5S part of your daily work, include 5S new and comments on daily performance meetings.
  • Conduct monthly audit and communicate the results.  Use them to recognize the best.

As always, 5S in the office is a team activity. Reclute your team to implement 5S and make it part of the daily routine. You will see results right away, the environment in the work area will be so much better!