Productivity: Habits That Leave You Distracted At Work

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Do you frequently find yourself distracted at your place of work? Could it be that noisy colleague or that buddy of yours who always comes to chat during work hours? Well, distractions are psych-breakers.

Most of us have certain habits that we automatically find ourselves doing at work. These may be good or bad depending on how you look at it. If it’s bad, it translates into bad productivity.

Besides lowering our productivity, these impose a lot of stress in our lives. We fail to meet deadlines, we prepare poorly for a presentation and so on. Personally, I find myself unconsciously refreshing my mailbox tab almost every 1hour.

These habits will drag you down the poverty line.

1. Multitasking

Do not multitask

Easily said than done, multi-tasking is a common habit amongst most workers. My colleague, Sheila, is one of those affected fellows. She’d brew coffee, at the same time run a photocopier machine yet she still has some open documents on her desk. The result is usually devastating for her. Either the coffee spills on her open documents or on the photocopier machine.

While multi-tasking, you subconsciously believe you’re doing a lot of work, but this is just an illusion. What you’re doing is wasting a lot of energy switching tasks which is also time wastage. Your colleagues may see you as a hardworking devoted worker, but the results are totally against their expectations. Sooner than you think, it becomes a stressful affair draining you down the path of mental degradation and poverty.

Instead of multi-tasking, take some time to complete a task or if you MUST multi-task, categorize similar activities together so that it’s easy to shift from one to another. Encouraging multi-tasking as a manager won’t take you to the next level.

2. Addictive web browsing

Addictive web browsing

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Nowadays, almost everyone is working with unlimited data connectivity. In as much as this trend may appear polish or how much helpful it is, people are misusing it. Not once or twice have I found several colleagues browsing social media pages, watching YouTube videos or visiting some funny sites while at work. Impulsive checking of

Impulsive checking of emails, social media pages or just browsing for a quick question that just popped out of your mind continually lowers our output. It’s advisable that you jot down the questions instead, block mail notifications and use site blockers during work hours.

3. Lack of a work schedule

A goal without a plan

It’s a common saying that if we fail to plan, we’re planning to fail. Schedules keep us organized. Without a work routine, you’ll just be doing anything that comes up. They remind us that we have goals to meet and without meeting them we’ve failed.

Planning is essential, but it has to be done moderately. That means over-planning or under-planning are both unhealthy for productivity. When you plan every minute of your day, a simple necessary unexpected event such as a simple toothache may throw a wrench into the entire day.

Too much time at your exposure makes us indulge in bad habits all because of under-planning your day.

4. Saying yes to every meeting

Too many meetings

Saying yes to every meeting may distract us from our schedules. I’m for the idea that you ignore every meeting. What I’m advocating for here is that you need to do it moderately and when it’s absolutely necessary.

Technology has made things much easier with applications that allow seamless coordination. Person-person meetings should only be held to discuss the very important details, making introductions or signing life-changing deals. They should be very brief. In fact, face-to-face interactions between colleagues should be as minimal as possible. The use of emails or phones for communication is highly encouraged.

Similarly, to minimize face-to-face interactions, there’s this upcoming trend of cubicles rather than open space offices. A 2013 Gensler study indicates that cubicles are more private and reduce the noise levels, eliminating the noisy coworkers we talked about in #2.

5. Too many work tools

Too many tools

Tools are very crucial when it comes to working. An engineer who lacks his tools is unaware of what he’s doing. Having too many tools piled on your desk or office will distract you from your work. You’ll be looking for a needle in a haystack when you really need one.

As you organize your day, know what tools to use specifically and do away with the rest. I have seen so many of my colleagues go through the trouble and believe you me; you wouldn’t want to be in that situation. Instead, just have a few, most necessary and some multitasking tools at your disposal.

6. Unorganized work desks

Unorganized work desk

Keeping lots of piles on your desk presents a lot of distractions for your workday. Messy desks make it difficult to locate documents or tools for completing a task. You lie to yourself that you know exactly where this or that is but in actual sense you don’t.

A neatly organized desk is what you need to boost your productivity from today onwards. Making small changes and sticking to principles leads to more fulfilling life.

7. Being indecisive

Being indecisive at workplace

Decision making is a routine activity in every workplace. If you take a lot of time to decide, then you must be wasting a lot of time. Instead of putting a halt on a task you’re doing, take a little time to go through the shortfalls or the benefits of making that move. That way, you’ll save a lot of precious time that could have derailed your progress.

Pro tip: Keep a list of the important indecisive topics separately for later consideration so as to continue to the next task.

8. Complaining and making excuses

Complaining about work

I had this workmate, Lincoln, who was always complaining about everything in the office; our boss, the weather, a fine burger, work environment and virtually everything around him. This unbecoming habit impedes us from moving forward since we can’t identify any positive thing about everything.

Instead of complaining, come up with better alternatives or solutions to these problems. Excuses are as good as complaints. Don’t hide behind the all-time cliché, “life isn’t fair”. Get your task done in time.

9. Failure to keep checklists

Confused at work

Lastly, failing to keep track of your daily activities will only lead to failure and poor output. Checklists are especially helpful so that you stay on the course of your daily schedule. If you don’t have a to-do list in the morning, you’re likely to forget a task, especially if you do a lot of writing, repairs and so on.

Checking the list for accomplished work helps you keep track of what you’ve done and not so you can create some extra time for it the next day.

10. Chatting up your coworkers

Noisy coworker

This term reminds me of students who used to do a lot of unnecessary talking were nicknamed noisemakers back in junior high. Sadly, these people never ditched the noise at junior-level. As a noisy coworker, you don’t just lower your productivity, but that of the entire firm.

A survey by Ask.com revealed that 61% of US workers are mostly distracted by noisy work colleagues. This is return affects their productivity. Stopping by a colleague’s desk unnecessarily is part of noise-making while there are other options you could use to communicate with them.

Here you go. If you are unconsciously or consciously engaging in any of the above behaviors, then be prepared for poor production and an eventual fall.

It’s time for a change.

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Rick Riddle
Rick Riddle is a successful blogger whose articles aim to help readers with digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and self-development. Connect with Rick on Twitter and LinkedIn.