The average worker in the U.S. loses 2.1 hours per workday due to distractions. And once interrupted it takes the average worker 23 minutes to fully get back into the task they were trying to complete. That is valuable time that could benefit the company and worker alike, but is instead wasted due to distractions and interferences.
While some distractions can’t be helped, such as important company meetings, other distractions can actually be controlled and kept to a minimum. The trick is knowing what might be keeping you from focusing on your work, and eliminating it from your work area. While we can’t account for every distraction you may be experiencing, we’re willing to bet that the following three distractions have plagued you or a coworker at some point. Our advice? Stay vigilant while on the job and know how to avoid these common attention stealers:
- Music: Even though listening to your iPod makes the day go faster and your work more enjoyable, it can present some serious hazards while on the job. Because of this, be sure to consult with your supervisor before donning those headphones, to make sure they won’t interfere with your ability to hear potential hazards in your workspace. One alternative to headphones, if they would be problematic, is to try playing a radio station quietly in the background. Having it at a lower volume will keep it from being a serious distraction, but will provide a little bit of background music to make the day more pleasant.
- Bothersome Noises: Four million workers deal with damaging or distracting noise levels or sounds at work. If your problem is that coworkers are playing their music too loudly, or that machinery is cranking away near your workstation, maybe earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones would be beneficial to you. Not only would they limit your exposure to distractions, but they could also benefit your health. Consider this: the noise from a power saw is 95 decibels which is capable of causing damage to your eardrums after only 4 hours. This means that having earplugs at the ready could prevent serious hearing loss and help you do a better job at work.
- Cluttered Mind and Inattentiveness: Maybe you have some exciting plans this weekend and you’re imagining all the fun you might have. Perhaps something embarrassing happened to you last night and you’re replaying it over in your mind. Both of those things can pull your attention away from the task at hand and possibly contribute to you or a coworker getting hurt at work. If you find your attention wandering back to those kinds of thoughts, consider taking a “micro-break”. Take a walk outside for a few minutes or just stand up and stretch. By taking those few minutes to pull away from your work, you can gather yourself and refocus your attention so that you are refreshed enough to focus on what you need to be doing.
- Messy Workspace: Workspace clutter is problematic for a number of reasons. It can be emotionally draining and stressful, but most of all, it can be dangerous. Piles of clutter can actually hide potential safety issues and, if toppled over at the wrong moment, can become a tripping hazard for you and your coworkers. To minimize clutter and the dangers associated with it, begin taking some time to clean off your workspace at the end of each day. By ending the day with a clean area, you will be able to start the next day with a clean area, which will help you focus and make your work space a safer space.
While some of these things might be easy to let slide, if you do, they could quickly cause a safety hazard for you and your coworkers. Taking the time to address these distractions will be much more beneficial for you in the long run. By working to stay focused on your tasks and blocking out both mental and physical clutter, you can stay stress-free and most importantly, safe.