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Productivity and creativity fuel professionals as they make strides in their field. But small things can chip away at workflow, substantially impacting projects and presentations. Focus is an essential skill to exercise in the office, but it is in jeopardy because of one significant threat—distractions.

Busyness has turned into the accepted mode of operation for most offices. People shift back and forth between urgent tasks, and hundreds of minor interruptions can make a project last far longer than it should. Distractions are the norm, and the path back from them to efficiency is fraught with challenges.

Regaining concentration is a serious obstacle that employees have to overcome. According to Udemy’s 2018 Workplace Distraction Report, 84 percent of workers predict they can refocus in about 30 minutes. But refocusing efforts can result in panic, stress and frustration.

Work quality can decline, too, when interferences cause setbacks in productivity. In one study where college students received a creative task, some got periodically interrupted, while the researchers left others to complete the project without distraction. The conclusion of the study was that distractions lead to error-prone, low-quality work.

Distractions in the Workplace

Momentary setbacks at work are dangers to creativity, but what do distractions in the office look like? Also, how much time do these activities take up? The most draining things to your attention span are technology, interacting with co-workers and a noisy setting.

Technology has become a weakness for many employees, and they can’t resist scrolling through their mobile gadgets during work hours. Udemy’s previously mentioned report shows approximately 62 percent of respondents spend an hour on their phone doing non-job-related tasks each day. But the time on personal technology leads to additional hours of lost productivity.

However, millennials spend upwards of two hours a day on their smartphones. As younger generations struggle with this temptation more, the potential damages to the workplace loom.

Employees are visiting social media sites, answering emails and texts and viewing entertainment while on the job. Notifications are continually calling attention to devices, blurring the lines between on-task duties and personal time. When creativity and innovation get derailed, companies and careers can suffer.

Besides smartphone and computer usage, intermittent conversations with co-workers and noisy environments also steal employees’ attention and break up concentration. While collaboration and workplace communication are necessary, excessive chatter is bothersome.

How to Protect Productivity

To address these intrusions and regain creativity, employees can practice self-discipline and make changes to their setting. Put an end to time-wasting habits to increase productivity in the workplace.

Self-motivated individuals want to increase their creativity and efficiency, but without proper training, they may not know how to stay on task. Discussing the right times to scroll through social media can be a much-needed reminder on how to pursue productivity. Employees can surround themselves with others seeking on-task routines, too.

Tracking efficiency and implementing accountability can assist employees in curbing their smartphone usage. Manageable limits for personal devices can help, but continue having enough breaks to distinguish between work and play.

Even if your office isn’t an open setup, colleagues may swing by your workstation to chat and gossip. Offices can rearrange their layout to offer privacy, control and quiet for employees. Choose an atmosphere that fits your preferences by using a co-working office space or even a private office. These areas provide flexibility and community while removing you from your toxic workplace.

Office guidelines on socializing can reorient an overly talkative company culture. Establish an understanding for the whole workplace on wasteful behavior to provide helpful training.

Other Creativity Killers

Distractions are a substantial creativity killer, but several other factors can hinder productivity, too. Stress, lack of sleep and comfort can squash creative abilities. Creativity may seem unpredictable, but you can take steps to prepare yourself for inspiration and ingenuity.

1. Stress

Finding the next brilliant idea can put undue stress on employees. In the search for innovation, the office can become competitive, and workloads can get heavy. A report by the American Institute of Stress shows 80 percent of workers in the study feel stress during their job.

While stress has many health implications, it can also produce diminished productivity, lack of motivation and absenteeism. Clear expectations, rewards and a positive setting can reduce anxiety and stress in the office and encourage employees.

2. Lack of Sleep

Without the restorative qualities of sleep, employees can experience fatigue and burnout. Lack of sleep can add lags in a typical workday, hurting productivity. Moreover, creativity and sleep have a close connection.

One concept is that slow-wave sleep, the especially deep state you sink into, can link memories and current knowledge to produce fresh ideas. Proper rest can rejuvenate the brain and lead to bursts of creativity, so get enough shut-eye for optimal work.

3. Comfort

Settling into a routine and meeting expectations doesn’t initiate innovation. A comfortable state with little feedback or direction can encourage mediocrity.

But healthy risk-taking can push you to grow and succeed. The comfort zone in a typical workplace may hinder steady development, so introduce challenges into your daily life to spur creative thought and productive action.

Strive for Innovation

While distractions and obstacles can prevent high-quality work, mindful practices can reshape an office space. You can increase awareness of creativity and productivity killers among your colleagues to achieve success. Optimize your potential by preserving focus and beneficial habits in the workplace.

About the author

Kayla Matthews, a tech-obsessed innovation writer, has written featured pieces for InformationWeek, The Innovation Enterprise, The Muse and more. You can see more of Kayla’s work on her site, Productivity Bytes, or follow her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews.

Listen to this podcast to find out what roles curiosity and humility play in innovation.