30th April 2018

How can you defeat distractions?

Distractions and interruptions are an inevitable part of your working day. Humans are designed to be easily distractible, yet we expect ourselves to do work that requires complete focus. Your attention is drawn away from a task when the phone rings, or when your colleague offers a cup of tea, or when your manager asks a question. Interruptions like these might be small, but they disturb your train of thought, and have a big impact on your personal effectiveness. Let’s talk about three steps you can take to minimise distractions and get the job done.

1. Take control

Your biggest distractions at work will happen on-screen. Do you sometimes feel like your inbox is spiralling out of control? Do you have too many things to focus on at once? If you have a deadline approaching, you can minimise disruptions from technology. If your phone buzzes every five minutes, activate "do not disturb" mode. Or if email alerts flash onto your screen, turn off the reminders until the task is done. If you start to feel overwhelmed by incoming emails, and if this is suitable for your job role, use an “out of office” message to tell contacts you’ll be checking your messages from 3pm. Setting aside time at the end of the day will help you focus. Remember, email and social media platforms are designed to keep us as active users, but they don’t help us to concentrate. Change your notification settings so you stay in control.

2. Managing colleagues

It’s a little harder to prevent colleagues from distracting you. But there are ways you can minimise certain problems which might arise. If a colleague asks you a question, it’s not rude to finish what you were writing, saying, or doing before they interrupted. Complete your sentence and mark the place where you ended, so when you return you haven’t forgotten. Having to re-do work because you accidentally skimmed over something is a real pain - and it’s something you can avoid.

3. Allow for some distraction

Some distractions are beneficial for your overall daily productivity. Taking regular breaks will allow your brain to become occupied with unconscious thought. If you allow it to rest you’ll feel refreshed, and when you return to a task you can then better emotionally engage. It’s important to schedule time in the day to allow your thoughts to wander. Now it’s Spring time, why not step away from your screen and go for a walk outside? You’ll minimise that feeling of being overwhelmed, stressed or fatigued, and your attention to detail will improve.

Go back to your work and implement these three steps. Turn off screen distractions, work around interrupting colleagues, and allow yourself time to refresh. It’s simple things like this that will have a big impact on your mental health at work.


Alice Hubbard


If you want to improve your personal effectiveness, our One-day Accuracy Skills open workshop is perfect for you. You’ll learn how to manage distractions, improve your concentration skills, handle information accurately, and manage causes of stress and error. If you want to get things right first time, every time, reserve your place now.

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