5 Ways to Avoid Distractions at Work and Focus

The office chit chat, your neighboring coworker's phone call, the unstoppable flow of emails, that well meaning yet untimely colleague who wants to grab a cup of coffee and of course your boss who stops by just as you are getting in the zone and crushing your task list! Ah, there are way too many distractions at work.
Despair not, fellow workers! There is hope. After doing hours and hours of research*, which includes using myself as a test subject for this office distraction article; I have arrived at 5 fail proof methods at drowning all office noise and focusing on your work. So, here goes: 
  1. Schedule your day. This is one of those 'no brainers' that everyone seems to know, yet the power of the 'task list' has not been fully unleashed. The first thing I do  every am as I sit down and turn on my laptop is go through my emails and make a list of the tasks I need to accomplish that day. Then I update my calendar with blocks of time for attending to those tasks. I even add a little 15 minute break if I know I am not going to have any time to breathe. This keeps me organized and focused. Also, I know how much time I can spare to socialize and talk to my colleagues.
  2. Spring for BIG headphones. Get headphones that will get noticed (and I am not recommending the D&G headphones below, but they are pretty). These are a clear signal to everyone around you that you are in the DND mode, and thus, not to be disturbed. Remember to not listen to music that would make you sing along! The key is to have some white noise in the background while you focus.
  3. Go for a walk. Now and again you will get overwhelmed with multiple projects and this is often cue for the brain to stop focusing on task at hand to think about that other client or project. This form of distraction can often be dealt with a walk around the block. Even if it is to just get some fresh air and a change of view. You will come back refreshed and able to focus on what you were working on. Please note: This strategy works best in conjunction with strategy #1 above!
  4. Go Fullscreen. Tackle Technology. Sometimes just having one window open on your laptop does the trick. I am a serial tabber and generally have 10+ tabs on my browser, excel sheets, word docs and ppts open at the same time. Shut them all down leaving open only what you are working on. This makes a huge difference in allowing the brain to concentrate. Another tip is to not check your emails every 10 minutes. Schedule to do so every 30 minutes. 
  5. Say no to people. Lastly, it's OK to say NO to someone; and tell them that you are in the middle of something and will get back to them.
  6. Here's a bonus tip: Sometimes a good RBF (Resting bitch face) can go a long way in keeping chit-chatters at bay, but try that out only with caution.


    This article was written by Varsha Agarwal and Varsha is referring to her background and experience in consulting as the *research.

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