9 Tips For Minimizing Workplace Distractions

Working at the office – but also when you work from home – often goes hand in hand with workplace distractions.

Chatty coworkers, people passing by with “quick” questions, non-stop email notifications, and of course the well-known never-ending-to-do list.

It is easy to get distracted and lose focus. Besides that it can also be overwhelming to even try to stay on track.

Personally, I struggled a lot with this when we went back to the office after working from home for more than a year. However, I tried multiple things and hopefully my 9 favorite tips can also help you to minimize your workplace distractions – both at the office and at home.

  1. Turn off notifications
  2. Practice email management
  3. Use headphones
  4. Use a second screen
  5. Make a to-do list
  6. Create a distraction-free workplace
  7. Practice mindfulness
  8. Eliminate multitasking
  9. Get enough rest
Table with macbook, glasses, planner and flowers

1. Turn off notifications

Notifications are one of the most disturbing elements in our daily life, and not only during work hours.

I bet you recognize the moments when your phone lights up with a notification, you pick it up and then spend much longer on your phone than you intended. After a while, you already don’t remember what you were doing at first.

Of course you can turn of your notifications for certain apps, but this also means that you won’t get this notifications outside working hours.

This is why I prefer the “Do Not Disturb” feature on my iPhone. With this you tell your phone to only allow calls and texts from certain contacts and apps, and you set a specific time frame for the feature to be enabled. You can also turn it on and off manually, in case you want it outside the standard hours.

You can also look at the notifications on your laptop. Do you really need to know it immediately when a new email arrives (and the same with Teams/Slack messages)?

2. Practice email management

Email can be a major distraction, especially if you’re constantly checking your inbox. In that case, only turning off notifications won’t do the job.

When I was figuring out which time management strategies work best for me. I found out that blocking time for my inbox worked best.

This means that during the day I have different time blocks in my calendar in which I update my mailbox.

Besides having specific times of the day to check your inbox, email management can also mean that you are using automated filters. These filters sort your emails and prioritize your inbox.

For example, you can use a filter to put newsletters or invoices in a separate folder.

Related article: 7 Effective Time Management Tips For Your Career

3. Use headphones

In the office, and certainly in an office garden, there is a lot of noise. This is very distracting, especially when you need to focus. By wearing (noise canceling) headphones you can block a lot of this noise.

In addition, let your colleagues know that when you wear the headphones, you need to focus and they shouldn’t disturb you for a while (unless it’s very urgent of course).

4. Use a second screen

With using a second screen, I don’t mean your phone or iPad/tablet, but an extra monitor for your computer.

A second monitor can be helpful when you need to use multiple documents, websites, and/or programs at the same time. For example when you are doing research or analyzing data.

It’s easier to stay organized and reduce distractions, since you no longer have to switch back and forth between different tabs/programs. It also gives you less temptation to open something else.

Do you want to read it later? Save it on Pinterest!

5. Make a to-do list

A to-do list can be on paper or digital, but make sure you can see in one glance what you need to do. This reduces your time thinking about “what can I do now” and due to that avoid wasting time and doing something useless.

An additional advantage, by being able to cross a task off your list, you also feel extra satisfied and want to do more.

Digital to-do lists, such as Trello and Asana, can also be very helpful with your time management in general. With these tools, you can prioritize tasks, set deadlines and collaborate with others in your team.

6. Create a distraction-free workspace

Besides all the noise in an office, there is also such a thing as visual distractions. When you have a lot of stuff on your desk, it’s easy to (unconsciously) shift your focus to these items.

Make sure you minimize these distractions. To do this, take some time to clear your desk of unnecessary items (such as personal items like photos).

You should only leave things on your desk that will help you in your day-to-day work.

7. Practice mindfulness

I’m not gonna lie about this, but to me, mindfulness always felt a bit spiritual (while I am more a down to earth person). However, my mental health forced me to try it anyway, and now I know that this can definitely help.

Mindfulness learned me to focus on the here and now when I was feeling stressed. After a while, I also noticed that if I focused on something, I was less likely to be distracted by small things.

Mindfulness can also help you regain your focus through various meditation and breathing exercises. My personal favorite is the 4-7-8; a quick method that you can do anytime, anywhere.

The 4-7-8 method means that you inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and exhale in 8 seconds. You can do as many reps as you think you need but you should do at least 3.

Related article: How To: Create a Healthy Work-Life Balance

8. Eliminate multitasking

I mentioned this one before regarding time management tips; multitasking never works! Especially if you’re trying to keep your focus.

Although you feel more productive, multitasking actually causes more distractions and a lower productivity level.

This is because your brain switches from task to task, which divides your attention and makes it easier to get distracted by something else. So next time just do task by task.

9. Get enough rest

Last but not least, having enough energy will help you a lot with staying focused. A lack of sleep can lead to fatigue and more difficulty with concentration, which makes it easier to get distracted.

Take care of yourself and make sure you get enough rest. Ideally, you get 7-9 hours sleep at night for an optimal energy (and therefore also focus) level.

There are several ways to minimize workplace distractions, and hopefully the tips shared above can help you. Be aware that not all tips will work for everyone, and that’s okay – everyone and everyone’s way of focusing and working is different. See what works for you, and let us know in the comments if you have any additional tips.

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9 responses to “9 Tips For Minimizing Workplace Distractions”
  1. My goodness! I need to create a distraction-free area and I need to work on eliminating multitasking when I’m trying to focus! Thank you for these tips.

  2. Eliminating multitasking is a great tip!

  3. Thanks for putting this together! Minimizing multi-tasking is a big one for me.

  4. Great suggestions! I find working from home I get just as distracted 🙈 so I’ll definitely implement some of these

    1. Yes, although you don’t have any colleagues walking by your desk every few minutes, there are still a lot of distractions at home. Personally, I am regularly distracted by all the chores around the house that I still want to do…

  5. It’s very easy to be distracted at work. This is a list of great ideas to help. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Such a great tips as its very easy to distract especially for a work from home mom.

  6. Roshan Shetty

    I am currently writing my book and can surely make use of these tips.

    Thanks for sharing

    1. Wauw, that’s great! Hopefully these tips will help you to write it without too much distractions

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