Workplace Trends

How much time do you lose to distractions?

Tania BarneyContinuing our series of guest blogs by speakers and supporters of our up-coming Workplace Trends Autumn Conference in London: People, Place, Performance, neuroscience and sensory processing expert Tania Barney looks at the growing number of distractions around us, and what individuals can do to minimise their impact.

Email alerts, social media, people walking by and colleagues on the phone. The list of distractions goes on… This constant stream of disruptions in the workplace are not only annoying, they are also costly for your business. How much time do you lose each day due to distractions?
Research suggests that:

  • An average of 2.1 hours are lost daily as a result of distractions
  • The average time spent on a task before we get distracted is 11 minutes
  • The amount of time it takes to return to a task after a disruption is 25 minutes

How do we find a way to reduce all these distractions and make the most of the time available?

Identify your ‘weapons of mass distraction’ 

What are the key things that distract you? Is your work flow disrupted more by sights, sounds, boredom, or your own thoughts? Our unique sensory wiring means that different people are distracted by different things.

Develop your own strategies 

Once you are clear on the main distractions, use a problem solving approach to find solutions. As we are all different, there is not a one size fits all approach. Some ideas include:

  • Turn off the phone
  • Disable pop ups and alerts on the computer
  • Work offline
  • Move to a different location for ‘brain work’
  • Wear noise cancelling headphones
  • Put up a Do Not Disturb sign
  • Keep a piece of paper handy to jot down any disrupting thoughts
  • Keep your workplace tidy to avoid visual distractions
Work in Time Blocks

It is not possible to sustain optimal attention and focus for the whole day. We are more productive when we work for focused blocks of time of 90 – 120 minutes. Then have a break, shift your focus, get up and move (but try not to distract those around you!).
Here’s to a more productive week!

Guest post by Tania Barney of Tania Barney Consultancy and Training.

Tania will be speaking with Paige Hodsman of Ecophon about ‘Designing for Differences: Neurophysiological Factors and Office Acoustics’ at Workplace Trends London on 17 October 2018.