How to Tune Out Distractions at Work

Life is filled with distractions. Knowing how to tune them out is a key to getting things done. It’s nearly impossible to keep your head down and concentrate on work for an entire work day. Research has found a typical office worker has only about 11 minutes between each interruption and it takes about 25 minutes to get back to the original task after the interruption. Distractions come in all shapes, sizes, and sound levels. The guy talking on the phone next to you can be distracting and so can an incoming email. People walking by can cause you to raise your head and stop working. Office distractions can total about two hours on average each day! The first step to dealing with distraction is knowing yourself. Some people can work in the busiest of offices where others need a quiet space to concentrate. Some can work for hours at a time while others lose focus quickly. Instead of coming down hard on yourself for losing focus, know how you work and adjust to it.

Know Your Most Productive Times

Our attention span changes throughout the day and there are times when we are the most productive. Learn what those times are for you and schedule complicated or complex tasks for those times.


Think about your email inbox. How many of the messages are actually important? Even so, we often feel the need to look at them as soon as they arrive. Doing so can distract you from what you were working on. To help control the distraction, turn off the alert that appears on the screen when a message arrives. Instead, check and respond to messages at set times throughout the day. Keep control of your inbox. Trash or file the emails you don’t need anymore. This will help keep your inbox for messages that need some type of action. If your organization allows it, turn off the notifications for instant messaging applications and set times to respond to these inquiries. The same goes for your smartphone. Turn off the alerts so it doesn’t distract you with every text, email, or call. You’ll get to it when you can.


If it’s the people around you who distract you, try to remove yourself from the situation by working in a quiet conference room or shutting your office door. Noise-canceling headphones can help remove audible distractions. Tell others about your need to concentrate if you’re working on something that requires all of your attention. This way, they can help you stay on track by not disturbing you. Today’s open workspaces are meant to foster collaboration, but they can also hurt productivity because of all the distractions. Some companies have processes in place when someone does not want to be disturbed. Headphones could be a signal or something else as simple as a red, yellow, or green sign stuck to the back of an office chair telling someone visually whether it is OK to disturb or not disturb someone. The professionals at Beaux-Arts Group can help you design your office space to minimize distractions and promote productivity. Contact us today.