There’s always something to be said about distractions in the workplace. More often than not, those “somethings” are negative. However, there are numerous distractions that can impact productivity in a positive manner. Having said this, it is important to have these distractions in moderation. If all of your time is being spent on distractions, that positive impact on productivity will quickly turn negative.
First and foremost, we must understand what good distractions at work are. A good distraction will help us to recharge, rest our minds, and help in the long term. Finding the perfect distraction for your workday depends on your own interests, job, and personality. To help you discover the best option for you, I’ve compiled a list of 25 distractions that can positively impact productivity.
The following 25 items are best utilized as good distractions at work in appropriate situations:
Apply logic to good distractions so that they may remain good and positive for productivity rates. Good distractions can easily become bad distractions if they are not kept in check.
Finding a few minutes to chat with your coworkers can work wonders in the way of productivity. Not only does the time with coworkers give your mind a break from working, but it develops communication skills. Effective communication skills are known to improve employee loyalty, morale, and understanding. Possibly most importantly, interacting with other employees creates a bond between one another. Having a team with a great relationship has its own benefits.
The benefits of knowing coworkers personally are many. You may learn things about them that enhance the working experience. It makes working together run more efficiently when you are aware of your team’s individual skills. Knowing coworkers also means that you understand how they react to coaching. Some personalities require a direct form of coaching, where others prefer to be eased into it. These kinds of preferences are only learned when we speak with other employees on a more personal level.
If you are introverted and are not a fan of socializing with coworkers, try getting to know one or two people at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself with everyone in the office. There is no need to completely jump out of your comfort zone and cause yourself more stress. More stress generally means you are less productive. Since we are aiming for the improvement of productivity, start with something you are comfortable with and expand your circle from there.
Taking a short break is a great way to give your mind a rest. A break might consist of just 10 minutes away from your desk. Whether the break is spent in the restroom, getting some fresh air outside, or sitting in the breakroom, it allows for a reprieve.
A break will not only give your mind a short rest, but it will reinvigorate motivation. When you spend so much time on one task without rest, it makes things seem as though they are never-ending. This alone is a huge motivation killer. Without motivation, productivity suffers. By scheduling breaks into your day, you will be sure to give your mind the brief moments of rest that it needs to perform at its peak.
Although unexpected, browsing the web can be a productivity booster! In order to limit browsing, it may be necessary to set a timer. It can be easy to lose track of time when focusing too much on this kind of distraction. However, spending some time on the internet provides the perfect distraction from working too much.
With the widespread amount of knowledge available to use on the internet, there is always something new to learn. In order to boost productivity it isn't necessary to search for something relevant to your current work assignment, but learning about something specific to your industry, in general, will help productivity in the long run.
Listening to music can be a great distraction when things are getting too stressful at the office. While everyone has their preference, music will typically increase productivity when it is instrumental.
If you are looking for a brief distraction during a work break, consider playing a few songs with lyrics to take your mind off of things. Sometimes music has a way of calming our minds and thoughts quickly and efficiently. When you return to work after a couple of songs, you will find your mind far more rested and refreshed.
Taking a short reading break will do multiple things for the workday. First, it will give your mind a moment of rest from everything business related. Secondly, by reading you are opening your mind to other possibilities. You are learning. There is a chance that something you read can enhance the way you work or give you an idea that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Reading also gives us the ability to escape reality. For 15 minutes you can find yourself in another place, like a short vacation from your job. The return to work after your brief vacation will feel more motivated and ready to go.
This might come as a shock to most people. Napping at work sounds like the opposite of being productive. In fact, it is something that is a fireable offense for the majority of employers. However, if you find yourself nodding off at your desk, continuing to attempt work will do little to no good. In fact, by taking a 10-20 minute power nap, you will find yourself much more alert and productive.
Sleep experts claim that a 20-minute nap will improve mood, alertness, and performance. It is important to nap no more than 20 minutes, as reaching 30 minutes of sleep will only make you more groggy. By setting an alarm and taking that short nap, productivity will make leaps and bounds. This is one reason that some companies are encouraging naps at work! Some offer napping rooms while others have desks with a cot underneath for those times when employees just need a power nap.
Social media is possibly the largest distraction of the 21st century. Despite this, if work is completed during work times and social media is used as a distraction from work on designated breaks, productivity will be enhanced. Why? Like with many of these distractions, it pulls our minds from the thing we have been focused on for hours on end.
Additionally, if you are friends with coworkers on social media there is another way to connect outside of work. By seeing what those coworkers have been up to in their personal lives, the familiarity within the team will only build. Because of familiarity amongst fellow employees, productivity will increase.
Keeping social media limited is key to keeping it as a good distraction. By blocking apps at certain times of the day and only allowing access to it during specified breaks, social media can remain a good distraction.
Making a personal phone call at work can sometimes be frowned upon. If that call is made at an appropriate time, it can help to ease your mind about the person on the other end or closure on the topic that you need to discuss with them. When these things weigh on our minds while working, it can be detrimental to progress, and therefore productivity. By making that phone call you can take care of what needs taken care of and move on.
A quick phone call can also turn around a sour mood. By speaking to someone of importance to you, it is likely that the mood that has been affecting your performance throughout the workday can be altered. At times it is simply the voice of a loved one to fix a situation. Other times, the voice on the other end knows the exact thing to say to inspire you or encourage your work. When the people we need to speak with are not physically present, a phone call can be imperative to salvaging the workday.
Many companies in the United States love to include their employees in potluck events on occasion. Others might see it as a distraction from work. However, having a company-wide breakfast or lunch event will encourage employees to get to know one another. Experiencing workers’ cooking skills (or ability to pick up cookies from the store) is a creative way to learn about others. This goes back to developing a sense of a team.
Another benefit of a potluck is the improved morale and loyalty employees will feel. Creating a work environment where people feel free to be themselves is a great way to develop a culture of inclusion. It lessens employee turnover and develops a more experienced workforce as a result.
Taking a lunch break is the perfect way to step away from work for a decent amount of time. With the ability to leave the office, not only can you refuel with good food, but you can get some fresh air and experience nature. Doing so will provide you with a bit of exposure to natural creativity. By being around beauty and art, you are more likely to have more creativity in your own work.
Lunch away from the office will also allow you the break from all work-related chatter, which is a bit different from many other productive distractions. By getting away from the physical office, you make it possible to completely turn off work-related thoughts and decisions from your brain for a short period of time. Doing so will allow rejuvenation and prepare you for the remainder of the workday.
A water break can be a good distraction for numerous reasons. Not only will the trip to the water cooler give you the chance to chat with fellow employees and further develop those relationships, but a water break will help with stress and a variety of other health concerns. Drinking enough water each day is imperative to living a healthy life.
When employees drink plenty of water, they are less stressed, are less likely to experience obesity, and often take far fewer sick days. Plenty of water is considered to be at least half an ounce per pound of body weight. Since we spend so much of our day at work, it is important that we drink water while working. Those facts alone should be enough to encourage more water consumption at work, but the idea that productivity is improved with water is the icing on the cake.
Snacking throughout the day is a distraction that will definitely improve productivity, as a well-fed stomach is one that keeps the body energized. When the snacks are healthy you are more likely to see the most positive effects of snacking on the job. On the other hand, sugary snacks might decrease productivity, as it can cause a sugar crash after the snack has been burned off.
In order to make sure that your snacks are the ones for the best productivity, try eating hard boiled eggs, yogurt, or nuts. Other options are tuna fish, pumpkin seeds, and bananas. While these are just a handful of choices, there are a variety of snack foods available to increase your energy levels as you sit at your desk.
When we envision meditation, we often think of someone sitting cross-legged in near silence, their humming the only source of sound. While this is how meditation is depicted in the movies, it is not always the case. In order to meditate at your desk, there are a variety of options.
The first way to meditate at work is to release a specific cause of stress from your mind. This involves deep breathing and acknowledging the stressor, then deciding that it will no longer plague your mind. After a few more deep breaths, you can physically shake out your body to release the stress.
Another way to meditate at your desk is to tap your fingers to your thumb while stating a five-word mantra. The mantra can be whatever it is that encourages you to be calm or in control of your emotions. Reminding yourself of what you are capable of is a great way to refocus on the work at hand.
If your employer is nice enough to have a gym on site, take some time to workout during the workday. When a gym is not available, consider doing some calisthenics in your office, walking a few laps around the building, or taking a few trips up and down the stairs.
While it may seem that exercise does nothing but exhaust you, in truth, the increase in your heart rate from the movement will release endorphins and ultimately give you an energy boost. A little extra exercise each day will also do great things for your health. This leads to less sick days and better productivity over time. It might also mean that employees will have the ability to work later in their lives, providing the company with more experienced personnel.
Playing games when you're supposed to be working sounds like the least productive action one could take. If you find yourself mentally blocked and unable to accomplish work-related tasks, taking a break to complete a sudoku puzzle, play a word game, or even involve a coworker in a chess match will temporarily place your thoughts elsewhere. Since games like these require thought, you are sure to forget about the work you were struggling to complete a few moments prior.
After a game break, returning to work will be easier and far more productive, as it has given your mind the ability to refocus on the task at hand. Thinking games are also great for your mind in the long run. They have been scientifically proven to improve memory, problem-solving skills, increase IQ, and put off dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Puzzles and games that require thought will increase productivity today and years in the future.
When you find yourself having a hard time focusing on work, whether it is because of a lack of motivation or simply because you've been staring at it for far too long, you can create or examine a vision board. There are a variety of forms of vision boards, from electronic to physical copies.
A vision board is a collection of photographs, quotes, and other items that inspire you. It might be a collage or cork board in your office, or it could be a board on Pinterest that you can continually and digitally add to. Whatever it is that works for you is great for increasing productivity on the days where it seems to be lacking.
Participating in a fun activity at the office will equally distract and amuse you! Involving coworkers will improve morale as well, which impacts productivity in a positive manner across the office as a whole.
Some fun activities that you might try include March Madness brackets, monthly icebreakers, or the human knot. The specific activity will depend on the office environment and the personalities of those that work there, but there are activities that can be tweaked so that everyone can enjoy themselves.
Taking 10-15 minutes to stretch out your stiff muscles will do wonderful things for productivity! When emphasis is placed on those areas that ache from sitting at a desk for several hours, returning to work will not only be more comfortable, but more motivating.
When you so at a desk all day you often experience back, shoulder, and neck pain. By stretching out each of these areas a couple of times a day, you are more likely to want to continue your work because of the pain relief you have experienced.
There's nothing like a messy or cluttered workspace to make you feel unmotivated. Take 15-20 minutes to organize your desk. Straighten or put away paperwork, sharpen pencils and cap extra pens, dust off the surface, and wipe down your keyboard with a disinfectant wipe. Having a clean area to work in will make you feel more ready to work than you were prior to the break!
A to-do list is a great way to physically see the tasks that need completing. It also allows you to sort them by order of priority. Often times a to-do list will allow you to figure out the best course of action to make sure that every task can be checked off the list.
It also feels great once you find your momentum and can check those items off one by one. The feeling of finality with a task as it is checked off gives a sense of closure now that it is done with.
Taking 10 minutes to watch quality videos is one of the best distractions. By using educational or inspiring material, such as what you would find with an Open Sourced Workplace or TED video, you can further your career while simultaneously forgetting about the work you're currently struggling with.
You might also use videos to learn a life skill. For example, there are a number of videos on YouTube that are the appropriate length for a break and will teach you sign language or other useful skills. By using our free time at work we can better our lives and free our minds from stress. That handful of minutes away from work can work wonders for the mind and body.
Fresh air flowing through your work area is not only great for productivity but good for the space itself. This is especially true when the season has just changed from winter to spring or spring. The breeze that comes through an open window can make you feel less trapped.
Windows also allow natural light to make its way into the office. Natural light is a big productivity booster in addition to being a stress killer. Despite the fact that an open window can carry outside noises and distracting views, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.
Although similar to meditation, breathing exercises focus solely on the breath whereas meditation focuses also on the mind. Professionals say that breathing exercises will decrease stress and anxiety in less than 10 minutes. Doing so impacts productivity and focus in a positive manner.
One common exercise is to breathe in for a count of 4 seconds, and then breathe out for 4 seconds. The equal breaths are said to bring balance.
Another exercise you might try is to focus on the expansion of your diaphragm on a deep inhale. You can do this by putting a hand to your chest and another to your belly. Be sure that your chest does not expand with the breath, but the top of your belly. By doing 60 to 100 breaths over the span of 10 minutes each day, heart rate and blood pressure will greatly improve.
Art has a way of making people focus on what's important. Even when said art is a quick doodle on scrap paper, the few minutes it took to draw it gives the brain a brief rest and encourages better performance when attention is turned back to work-related topics.
Doodling also has the ability to import creativity into your work. It is a creative outlet that can overflow into the way in which we see and solve problems.
Likely a crowd favorite distraction: coffee. From the taste to the smell, the warmth to the comfort, coffee is an age-old distraction that will not be going anywhere anytime soon. The caffeine gives a bit of an energy boost to those that feel themselves dragging. It also provides the opportunity to get up and walk around the office, as well as a brief chat with the other person in the break room as they wait for their own coffee.
Perhaps less known about coffee is the ability to improve cognitive function in the long term. Cognitive function is a variety of activities involving the brain, including memory, language, attention span, and reasoning. With benefits such as these, the distraction of coffee is highly revered in the workplace.
The distractions aforementioned, like all distractions, pull us away from work. Despite this, there is a positive aspect of these distractions that we didn't expect to see. While most of them result in a way to free our minds from the same thought working minds get stuck on throughout the course of the day, they also have a variety of other benefits and impacts on productivity.
With many of these distractions providing the ability to positively impact productivity, not just today, but for years to come, they are recommended. See the results that you get immediately. If you see an advantage in the short term, attempt the long term improvement. Trying these distractions are not likely to do harm, as many employees find themselves staring at the screen of their computer accomplishing nothing at times. By using that time to find a good distraction that works for them, they may just find the one that makes waves in productivity.
How might you keep distractions from getting out of hand? By scheduling breaks into your workday and using a timer, you are more likely to work when you're supposed to and use good distractions when you've allowed yourself a break. Be sure there is a good ratio or work to break based on your own attention span.
What are some good team building activities? There are unlimited options for team building and bonding. A few good ones include joining a softball league, summer ice cream evenings, and having a company-wide picnic with employees and their families.
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