We all know the feeling: You’re working away, making good progress, when suddenly your phone buzzes. Next thing you know, it’s been forty-five minutes and you’ve forgotten what you were doing in the first place. Little distractions like these are common in any workplace, but if you let them pull you away from your work, your productivity will suffer. Here are four common workplace distractions, and tips for how to prevent them from interrupting you when you’re on a roll.

  1. Email — Despite being essential to most professional jobs, email can be a massive hindrance to productivity. If you treat every new email as top priority, you’re relinquishing control over your to-do list to anybody who has your email address. Instead, turn off email notifications and schedule specific times to check your inbox.
  2. Smartphones — Between social media notifications, apps, and phone calls, your smartphone can be an endless distraction if you let it. Consider disabling push notifications for as many of your apps as possible, or even putting your phone on “do not disturb” or airplane mode while you’re focusing on a specific task.
  3. Noise — Some people could work through a hurricane, while others struggle to compose a complete sentence with someone else’s conversation or music in their ears. If you’re the latter, grab some noise-cancelling headphones or use a white noise generator to give your brain the peace and quiet it needs to work.
  4. A messy workspace — Nothing can derail a productive streak like losing an important piece of paper or spilling your coffee all over a report. Try spending a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day straightening up your workspace to ensure that you can find what you need, when you need it.

Studies have shown that in a single eight-hour workday, the average worker is only actually working for about three hours. The other five hours are lost to reading the news, checking social media, chatting with coworkers, and a half dozen other non-work activities. By eliminating some of these distractions, you could effectively double your productive hours and still have two hours to take short breaks, catch up on the news, and make sure you’re not missing anything on Instagram!

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