Switch off that distraction!

By Shi Tianyun

Guess what? The number one distraction in the office is not your co-worker who speaks at 70 decibels all the time or your boss who loves to stop by your cubicle to tell you all about his latest golf game. An informal survey of 500 corporate managers conducted by Natalie Gahrmann of N-R-G Coaching Associates revealed that the top distraction in the US workplace is technology. Communication technologies, like email and social media, are so time-consuming that it’s estimated that 28 per cent of the average person’s work day is spent on them.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to go to the extremes of deleting your Facebook or Twitter accounts. By making certain tweaks to your computer and mobile phone, you will cut down on these distractions you didn’t know existed and send your productivity up by that 28 per cent without having to clock the overtime!

Email Inbox

Here are some facts: a office worker typically sends and receives 110 emails a day and they also check their inbox on an average of 30 to 40 times an hour!

If your job doesn’t dictate you to reply your emails straightaway, disable all alerts. Be it that chime or pop-up window that appears whenever you received mail, you will be able to concentrate on your task at hand that much better without these notifications distracting you. Instead of being “tempted” into checking your inbox each time an alert comes up, stipulate fixed timings, perhaps every hour, to check in.


Maybe you don’t obsessively refresh your email inbox for new mail but somehow you just can’t ignore the open programmes and applications reflected in the numerous open windows on the taskbar. After all, 45 percent of workers have at least six applications open on their desktop at any one time; it definitely can get quite crowded on screen.

If you have to plough through a lengthy article online, just hit the F11 button and the browser window will expand and fill the entire screen – removing all distractions. That means the taskbar and any other notifications will be blocked out from sight. Another press of F11 will toggle your screen back to normal.

Mobile Phone

You might think it’s a no-brainer when it comes to your phone. All you have to do is to switch your phone to the silent mode, right? What you have overlooked is all those push notifications that light up your screen to tell you how many points your pal scored in Scramble With Friends. Disable those too. Plus if you are not expecting an important phone call, stash that mobile phone away in your drawer. Don’t worry, you can make up for lost time with your phone during lunch!

Social Networks

Besides disabling all social media push notifications on your mobile, remove all auto-updates to your email account. For instance, Facebook and Twitter default settings allow you to receive updates for everything. Plus, you shouldn’t be sending all these emails to your work email.

If for some reason, your personal and work email accounts happen to be the same, I’m sure you know how distracting receiving an email saying that pinkfluffycats started following you on Twitter can be at work. So get rid of those! But if you are the sort who needs to know who posted a new picture, here’s how to compress those numerous notifications into one daily digest.

How else do you keep distractions at bay at work? Share with us in the comment box!

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