Common time wasters in the workplace and how to avoid them - I

The office is an area of distraction. Between emails, calls, attending to walk-in customers, social media notifications and perhaps loud colleagues. We are constantly faced with potential time wasters on a daily basis.

To eliminate distractions as much as possible can have a huge impact on our output, productivity and mental wellbeing in general.

A UC Irvine study revealed that, on average, office workers are interrupted every 11 minutes. And yet it takes around 25 minutes to get back on track.

So, rather than focus on your to-do list and what you can do to boost your output, you should also consider how to eliminate distractions too. 

Here are tips on how to avoid time wasters at workplace and how to identify them.



Smartphones are a bit of a puzzle for most workers.

Beyond communication, smartphones help us to be connected than ever. On the other hand, this connectivity comes with a cost in productivity. It is researched that an average person spends about 3 hours a day on the phone.

This distractions can be attributed to the closeness of the human brain to the phone. We are wired to sway whenever we get a notification on our phone and it takes a few minutes to get focused on the job. 



How to avoid distractions from our smartphones 

You don’t necessarily need to discard your phone to eliminate distractions at work or rather to make it less a time waster. You can uninstall the apps that distracts you or you activate do not disturb by turning off all notifications during working hours. All of these notifications can be attended to during lunch hour or after work. This allows you to fully concentrate on your work and increase productivity.




It’s often believed that multitasking makes one more more productive but in reality, it’s the opposite. In multitasking we fail to separate immediacy from urgency. A task can be urgent but does not need your immediate attention. 

Studies have shown that the majority of people who multitask under perform when doing so. (unless you’re part of the 2.5 percent of people who can multitask effectively.)

Avoiding Multitasking to remain focused 

You don’t need a scientific proof that multitasking can be a big waste of time. Rather than multitask, you can spend some time creating a focused daily schedule that encourages single tasking. Learn to focus more on what requires immediate attention than focusing both on the task that requires your urgent and immediate attention.

Noisy Workplace 

A noisy environment and loud colleagues at work can have a huge impact on your output. An open office plan often worsen the issue.

To optimally perform in an environment that is mentally demanding, researchers advised an environment that is not louder than 50 decibels. However, most workplaces are on the range of 60-65 decibel range.   The difference might not seem significant but the sounds of laughter, conversation, mobile ringtones can take you out of your focused zone.

Avoiding a noisy workplace 

Office cubicle and sectioned spaces can help to reduce noise that can be carried across offices. If you cannot physically distant yourself from noisy workers, you’ll be better off wearing headphones and listening to good and inspirational music.


Cluttered Workspace

A cluttered workspace can tell all the difference about how you feel and operate at work. A cluttered office space makes everything in sight competes for your attention and makes it hard to work which influences your perception of your professionalism and ultimately your productivity.

How to avoid a cluttered workspace

Making it a habit of getting rid of cluttered office space to avoid distraction and boost productivity is a great way to increase output. You can set a reminder either on a daily, weekly or bi-monthly to clean your office and dispose of unwanted items.  File and desk organizer would go a long way to help you achieve that purpose.

Nwajei Babatunde

Content creator for Vanaplus Group.

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