It can be incredibly easy to get distracted in the modern day workplace. This happens to be especially true in those offices with an open floor plan that boasts bench seating and wide, unchallenged lines of vision. Regardless of all and any distractions around you, you still have work to do and goals to accomplish. Here are some common workplace distractions along with some tips on how to avoid and overcome them and instead keep your focus.

Coworker Chit-Chat

Whether it’s two other coworkers having a lively conversation about last night’s episode of The Walking Dead or it’s a coworker taking a phone call (whether personal or professional), it can be incredibly distracting during those critical moments when you need to focus intently on what you are doing. Headphones can prove to be your best friend, as you can hardly yell at your coworker to pipe it down. Just be sure that the music itself isn’t too loud and that the type of music matches not only your mood, but also the type of work you’re completing. Otherwise, the music may prove to be a distraction itself.


Chatty Coworkers

Perhaps the problem isn’t that your coworkers are talking amongst themselves or over the phone – maybe it’s that they are talking to you. While having a short and friendly conversation with coworkers is definitely okay and sometimes even needed as a quick break, it can also be unwanted if you’re scrambling to meet a deadline or in the middle of something important. While cutting them off may expedite the process, it certainly won’t make for a very pleasant way to end the conversation. Instead, simply and politely explain that unfortunately, you’re on deadline and you need to get back to it. Be honest and polite about why you need to cut a conversation short – your coworker is sure to understand that situation and this way you won’t seem rude.


Printer Noise

Are you the person who sits by the printers? Lucky you! Okay, not so much. For some, there is nothing more distracting than the distinct purr of a printer. It’s an unfortunate noise to be sure, but also one that probably isn’t going anywhere, sadly. If it’s really disturbing you, look into moving your desk. If that’s not an option, know that listening to your own headphones can also go a long way.



Whether you’re answering important emails or not, it can still cause you to lose your focus, especially if there’s a sound alert activated. To avoid this distraction, turn off any kind of notification and set aside a time chunk dedicated to answering emails. Only allow yourself to answer emails during that time. This will ensure that you stay on task. If you’re worried about important emails going unanswered for too long, add two time slots to your day dedicated to answering email.


Cell Phones

Texting, calling and facebook-ing – oh my! For as amazing as these pocket sized devices are, they are incredibly distracting. They can also be quite a time-suck. You start to browse emails and, before you know it, you’re reading a Buzzfeed article that you really don’t need to be reading. While for some people this certainly will be a no go, turning your cell phone off and keeping it stowed away is the best way to keep this small but powerful distraction at bay.



Multi-tasking is something that is often touted as the key to success. However, there is a lot of research out there that points to the idea that multi-tasking may actually worsens the quality of work that we accomplish. It can also very easily take us off course. It’s important to multi-task sparingly. Your work will most likely improve the more that you focus/ the less that you multi-task.


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