How to Be Less Distracted & More Productive


Several years ago, The New York Times reported that a typical office worker gets interrupted every 11 minutes – yet it takes nearly half an hour to get back to what they were doing.

You’re probably not that surprised.

Between phone calls and emails and meetings and phones that buzz and computers that beep, it’s a wonder we get anything done at all!

Here’s some of the major distractions we find in office environments, and a few suggestions to overcome them.



At the end of the day, some meetings are unavoidable. Luckily, there’s a balance. You just need to learn how to hold better meetings.

The simplest fix is to appoint someone who’ll lead the meeting and keep everyone on track. This person will set the agenda and time limit, which is sent to all team members. For example, you might email: ‘Hi everyone, I need everyone to meet tomorrow for an hour at 10am so we can finalise the following three things: …’

Then the leader needs to make sure that everyone stays on track so the meeting only goes for the promised hour and checks off those important tasks.

Basically, everyone should know:

·       the purpose of the meeting

·       how long the meeting will go for

·       what they need to do afterwards



We probably don’t even need to point this out, right?

Most of us leave our inboxes (or Slack) open all day, letting pop-ups distract us any time we receive a new email. We think this is professional – responding to emails promptly is a good thing, right?

Well, maybe, maybe not. But it’s the best way to lose track of your day and distract you from the important tasks you need to focus on.

The fix? Simply shut your emails down. If you have a task you absolutely need to focus on completing, turn off all programs that send you notifications – emails, social media, Slack – until you have completed the task.

When you come back online, you’ll probably find that most of those emails weren’t actually in need of your immediate attention after all.


Office Noise

Open offices seemed like such a great idea at the time. Everyone was going to be so much more collaborative and creative and flat… and annoyed by the amount of noise their co-workers create.

While there are plenty of reasons why open offices are great, noise control is not one of them. While the lack of walls is helpful for collaborative-style work, it can be really, really difficult to focus!

If your company doesn’t offer ‘quiet zones’ to use when working on tasks that require high levels of concentration, create one for yourself. That is – wear headphones.

Those big, noise-cancelling headphones signal to your team that you are deep in work and shouldn’t be interrupted – whether or not you’re actually listening to anything is beside the point. If you need some sound, look for ‘focus’ playlists on Spotify or try a white noise app like Noisli.


Your Smartphone

It’s easy to blame your office for being distracting, but what about that little piece of technology that constantly lights up next to your computer?

Keeping your smartphone on your desk is one of the most distracting things you can do. And those distractions are almost definitely not work-related. Your friend on holiday might tag you in something on Facebook. Your group chat will beep away with weekend plans. Your inbox will light up with the latest ASOS sale…

But since many of us use our phones for work as well, turning it off during work hours isn’t an option. Instead, turn your phone onto ‘do not disturb’ during times you need to concentrate.



When we’re having trouble concentrating, we don’t always think to refuel. We think the office is too noisy or that you can’t get work done anyway because a meeting is about to start…

If we do think of having a snack, we often think of the vending machine, with its chocolates and chips and other snacks bound to create energy spikes and make the problem worse.

What to do? Just snack on something healthy instead!

Snackwize offers a selection of delicious, healthy snacks rich in protein, fibre and healthy fats. Save everyone time and energy by leaving a box in the breakout room.

Conor Reynolds