Common Workplace Distractions and How to Avoid Them

May 15, 2024
Discover effective strategies to minimize distractions, manage interruptions, and stay focused on your tasks throughout the workday. Reclaim your productivity with these practical tips.

Emails, smartphones, phone calls, colleagues—the list goes on. It's no surprise that so many individuals struggle with distractions and maintaining focus at work. Some days, it may feel like you are constantly being interrupted. Between meetings and talks, it's difficult to focus on your work and complete your to-do list. 

While strategies by FocusMonk can boost productivity and provide access to tools that help you manage your workday, they can sometimes have the opposite impact. More than half of companies believe that employees' mobile phones are to blame for lower productivity at work. Distractions at work often take more time than you realize. The good news is that you can make efforts to avoid distractions at work and learn how to focus more effectively, allowing you to get through your day more efficiently. 

The Most Common Office Distractions That Kill Productivity 

 A University of California study found that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to your previous job following an interruption. You can see how all of those minutes build up to a significant amount of missed productivity during the day. 

At work, the temptation to be distracted is real. According to CareerBuilder, cell phones and texting are the most common workplace distractions. While it's simple to blame everything on technology, it's evident that other elements are at work, including: 

  • Meetings 
  • Emails 
  • Noisy co-workers
  • Social media 
  • Gossip 
  • Calls on speakerphones  
  • Co-workers dropping by 

Tips To Avoid Distractions At Work And Stay Focused 

While employers are actively working to reduce distractions, some things are unavoidable, such as meetings, emails, and phone calls. So, how do you minimize distractions at work without turning off your phone and laptop completely? Here are some time management techniques to avoid distractions and improve your focus at work. 

Interruptions by Other Persons

Other people can be a significant distraction at work, whether it's a coworker who swings by your desk to ask a question or a child who wants assistance with their homework. While it is vital to interact with others to develop rapport, and we cannot ignore our responsibilities at home, these interruptions can prevent us from operating at our best. 

Management strategies: Encourage employees to close their office doors, work in a designated quiet area, or wear headphones to signify that they are unable to converse to reduce distractions from others while concentrating. 

Help employees who work from home locate tools to limit distractions from other household members, such as using the best productivity apps for kids and sharing childcare tasks with another adult or working from a different location at specific times. 

Digital Notifications

Constant pings from email, direct messaging, and other apps can quickly interrupt our flow states. When we feel obligated to answer every message, it might be difficult to focus on work. Most office workers receive a continual stream of emails, making it difficult to decide which ones require an immediate answer and which can wait until later.

Management strategies: Encouraging staff to use the "do not disturb" mode during work hours is an effective technique to assist them manage notifications. Time blocking, or allocating a specific period to work on a topic, can assist employees in turning off other distractions and focusing completely on the task at hand. 

They can also set aside 30 minutes for email responses and wait until the end of the day to address them. Setting limits around their work hours also allows other employees, friends, and family to anticipate when they will be available and limit distractions during those times.

Personal Phone Usage

Did you know that the typical individual checks their smartphone 47 times each day? That comes to six times every hour if you work eight hours a day. Personal devices such as cell phones and tablets can be huge distractions in the office, whether they are used for personal messages, social media, or online shopping.

Management strategies: Some companies have strong restrictions around personal device usage, particularly if the work is important, such as in banking, healthcare, or the military. However, most employees prefer to have access to their phones throughout the day. 

To reduce the level of distraction, urge employees to use do not disturb options during work hours or to put their phones on silent mode. Again, teaching time blocking is an excellent technique to assist employees in determining when they will focus and when they will be able to use their cell phones. 

Surrounding Noise

The noise in our jobs can be distracting. If you work in an open-plan workplace, you may discover that other employees' chats or even their typing can distract you from your tasks. According to research, the majority of employees (85%) struggle to concentrate at work, while fewer than half (41%) have a private workspace.

Management strategies: It would be ideal if we could provide each employee with their own office so they could close the door and control the noise level. Most office designs no longer allow for this, and even remote employees may not have a secluded space to reduce ambient noise. 

You may promote a quiet policy, except for specific areas such as lunchrooms or break rooms. Other approaches for a positive workplace environment and reducing noise include encouraging staff to use noise-cancelling headphones or working from a different place, such as a library. 


According to an Atlassian study, the average employee attends 62 meetings per month and finds that half of them are a waste of time, with nine out of ten employees admitting to daydreaming during these sessions and nearly four out of ten falling asleep. 

Management strategies: First, urge your employees to minimize the amount of meetings they schedule. Then, ensure that they only include other staff members who need to attend the meeting. Anyone who calls a meeting should present an agenda and goals so that attendees understand what to expect and what they will gain from it.

Building a distraction-free environment is the aim of FocusMonk to maintain consistent productivity levels. More importantly, it is considered as best focus app for allowing employees to take breaks and replenish their batteries can help them stay enthusiastic and focused.