5 Ways to Cause Distractions at Work

(Today we have a very nicely written article about work distractions by our new friend Blake! Maybe some of these things have been bugging you? Besides the high speed of internet, of course -Grace)

In this high-tech age, workers need all of their mental energy in order to complete complex tasks. Experts have found that productivity is often tied to mental “momentum.” People who can focus on a task for a long period of time are more efficient than those who take frequent breaks. This cognitive momentum can easily be stalled by disruptions in an office environment. Anyone who wants to complete tasks quickly should consider reducing or eliminating these common office distractions.

1 – Persistent Sounds

Everyone understands that loud, unexpected noises can cause a major disruption in an office. What many office managers fail to notice is that persistent sounds can be equally distracting for workers. Even low volume noises can interrupt a worker’s train of thought and seriously impact productivity. Workers might be distracted by low-level noises like traffic, loud footsteps, flushing toilets or beeping electronic devices.

Workers are most likely to be distracted by other people’s conversations. Since the language processing areas of the brain are vitally important to many office tasks, an overheard conversation can interfere with an office worker’s concentration. Studies have shown that telephone conversations are especially distracting; workers have a hard time “tuning out” these one-sided conversations because their brains are trying to fill in the gaps.

2 – High Speed Internet

Work is a cognitive process that requires a great deal of focus; workers who lose momentum on a task often have a hard time returning to the right mental state for a cerebral task. The instant gratification of high speed internet can turn a worker’s “quick break” into an hour-long diversion.

To complete strenuous tasks, the human brain needs to be trained to focus for long periods of time. Workers who respond to the allure of high speed internet will find their attention spans shriveling over time. In order to promote productivity, companies and individuals can block certain websites or monitor internet usage during working hours.

3 – Uncomfortable Working Environment

Contrary to popular belief, a colder room will not keep workers more alert. The human brain can be easily distracted from an intellectual task by physical discomfort. Office spaces that are too warm or too cold can interrupt an important cognitive task by forcing workers to focus on the unpleasant sensations of their environment.

Office workers can also be distracted by uncomfortable chairs. Since employees must sit for most of the working day, a bad chair provides an incentive to take longer breaks or leave early. Poor ergonomic planning can cause back, wrist and neck pain; these twinges can create serious distraction during the day.

4 – Unplanned Conversations

Even workers who carefully plan out their schedules each day can find themselves falling prey to distraction. Unplanned conversations during the working day can cause workers to lose mental momentum as they go about their daily tasks.

Workers may end up getting distracted by phone calls, meetings or casual chats with colleagues. Since social niceties can quickly become a serious time sink, workers should learn to distinguish between necessary conversations and unnecessary distractions. Meetings should be planned well in advance; anyone who needs to hold a meeting should create an agenda in order to stay on topic. An employee break room should be set far away from an office floor so that workers on their breaks are not tempted to chat with their colleagues.

5 – Poorly Planned Spaces

Not all distractions involve the conscious mind. Humans are often guided by intuition; when a person is subconsciously aware that something is “off” in his working environment, he may become distracted as his brain tries to come up with a solution to this problem. Poor office design can contribute to lost productivity during the working day.

Dim lighting can interfere with workers’ perception of what time it is, making them feel drowsy during the day. While high ceilings encourage abstract thought, low ceilings will promote analytical thinking. Cramped office spaces will encourage workers to daydream about being somewhere else. Workers may also be distracted by poor ventilation or lingering odors in an office environment.

Blake Sanders is a tech writer at US broadband comparison site Broadband Expert. Blake specializes in high speed internet, cell phones, as well as the latest in wireless internet provider news and information.