Distractions at work: The good and the bad.

By Scotti Mizner – Senior Recruiter at Grafton Staffing

DistractionsEveryone has been distracted at least a couple times while at work. The casual conversation, a “ding” on your phone which causes you to read the newest alert, or some app on your phone that you get lost in for twenty minutes. With the advance of technology and smart phones, the list could really be endless for distractions in our daily lives.

Are all distractions bad?

We have all been in that place where you are working your hardest and not making progress. It’s frustrating. You’re not sure what else could be done to reach your goal. Maybe you are ready to throw in the towel and see who else can pick up your slack. You end up walking away from your desk, chatting with a co-worker, refilling your coffee, and doing anything other than what you are supposed to be doing at the moment.

You sit back down. Twenty minutes go by and all of a sudden something clicks. You use a different approach, and BOOM! You accomplished what you had been stuck on for the last three hours. Sometimes, walking away and taking a break can show you an angle that you hadn’t seen before. Maybe the distraction is what you needed at the moment.

On the other hand, you can also have distractions that eat up your day.

These don’t benefit you or your company. You find yourself reading the latest trending topic, then that branches out to another topic, then another. Now forty-five minutes have passed and you aren’t sure what you even read about.

To eliminate these distractions, you have to take stock of what is distracting you. Was it your phone or a co-worker?

By understanding what distracted you, you can start to put in place behaviors and habits to avoid those distractions. Was it your phone that distracted you when a notification went off? Turn off your notifications while at work. Then allow yourself to manually check your normal phone apps, but with a certain cut-off time, if your work allows.

Did you get stuck chatting it up with Kathy in the office? Two options there. Either avoid Kathy’s office like the plague (potentially offending to Kathy, just a heads up) or limit the time spent inside Kathy’s office. Go into her office with a plan of what business needs to be talked about, and set a time limit. If the business talk lasts the whole time, sorry Kathy, we can chat at lunch.

So… while distractions get a bad reputation, it’s the type of distraction and how we let it affect our day that can be the difference between a bad distraction, or maybe a good one. It is all about how we use the distraction to our advantage, and limiting the time spent on distractions. We must use our distractions and stay productive, instead of just wasting time counting down until the end of the day.

The longer you spend with a distraction, the longer the day is, and the less gets accomplished for the day.