Where is the Noise Coming From?
What distracts you the most? Take stock of your distractions and make a plan to deal with them.
It may seem simple enough to identify them and they’re usually related to technology. But for the purposes of really uncovering the distractors that hound you, we’ll need to make a slightly deeper analysis. In addition, not all distractions are of a technological nature. Let’s take a broader view.
Research into distractions, which refers to them as “noise,” identifies two broad categories – external inference and internal interference.
External noise comes from outside. There are two types:
Distractions. This is noise that’s irrelevant to what you’re doing right now. An example would be overhearing people talking while you’re sitting at your desk. These are distractions that should be ignored.
Interruptions. An interruption happens when you’re working on a primary goal but also engaging in a secondary goal at the same time. An interruption can be either something that actually disrupts your work or it could be multi-tasking. An example of an interruption is when you’re responding to email during a meeting. Your focus should be solely on the meeting and the business at hand.
Internal interference refers to the noise that comes from within. These are not distractions that come from other people or your environment, but your own mind and will.
Intrusions. An intrusion happens when unwanted or distracting thoughts enter your head. While you’re trying to focus on something, your mind wanders.
Diversions. A diversion is, like an interruption, a type of multi-tasking. But here, you’re mentally engaged in two different things at the same time. For example, you’re listening to a presentation but planning another work task while listening.
Distractions can be annoying but they can also hurt productivity in a significant way. One report shows that 55% of people are frequently distracted throughout their workday. The report found that 25% of people were completely unproductive 7 or more hours per week. If you do the math, this translates to 2.3 days of lost productivity per employee per month.
What are these distractions that are costing us so much productivity? They include:
External – Colleagues carrying on small talk, music, people stopping by your disk to say hello or invite you for coffee, noise, and instant messaging.
Work – High volume or increases in email, responding to pressing emails (which prevents you from getting work done), last minute requests, interruptions from clients, disorganized desks or workspaces and needless phone calls.
Internal – Mind wandering, multi-tasking, planning future tasks while performing present ones.
Personal – Social media, personal email, internet surfing, personal phone calls, personal family issues, text messages, fatigue.
As you can see from the examples above, not all distractions are social media notifications or phone calls. Things like having a messy desk or poor discipline (letting your mind wander) can be just as insidious as constant email notifications.
It’s impossible to keep every distraction from affecting you. But with some conscious effort and simple changes, you can identify the worst distractions and get them under control.
Next Article – Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Focus at Work
List common distractions that affect you on a daily basis.
- Which ones are the most problematic for you?
- Which ones would you like to learn to control?
Where is the noise coming from?
About the Author. Karen Perkins is a Life Coach and Personal Hands-on Organiser. She enjoys helping busy people achieve results through effective lifestyle choices that improve their personal and professional lives.
If you need practical assistance, guidance in changing habits or motivation Clear & Clutterfree can help you save both time and money getting organised and staying organised.