Distractions are rapidly becoming enemy No. 1 in the workplace. In fact, 45 percent of employees work only 15 minutes or less without getting interrupted, and 53 percent waste at least one hour a day due to all types of distractions according to recent research by harmon.ie, a provider of social email software. That un-engaged hour translates to a loss of productivity exceeding $10,000 per person per year.

The report concludes that two‐thirds of companies and technology users are pursuing tools and strategies to minimize digital distractions, reflecting an understanding of the need to restore productivity that is being sapped by misuse of digital applications.

Distracted Focus and Disengagement Negatively Impacts the Workforce

Distractions negatively impact worker output, quality, satisfaction and their connection with clients and co-workers. Today, multitasking is best described as juggling e-mails, text messaging, and checking Facebook while participating in a meeting. The terminology to describe this activity is “rapid toggling between tasks.” A person engaged in this type of activity is constantly context switching and all activities suffer in quality of attention.
In fact, this research shows that two out of three people will tune out of face‐to‐face meetings to communicate digitally with someone else. How many times have you stood in a checkout line or been speaking with a sales person only to have him or her take a mobile device and respond to a text or call before replying to your question?
Three Strategies to help control Distracted Focus
Distracted focus is a major barrier to being fully engaged and productive, yet the impact of focus on the workforce is often overlooked. Are you able to focus for more than 15 minutes without interruptions? Some of the biggest contributors are less privacy, less space and more distractions such as social media and announcement beeps on electronic equipment notifying you of incoming messages. Adapt some of the following strategies to increase your focus and productivity — both in quality and quantity.

Create focus space. If you are unable to remain focused where you currently work, move to temporary space that is quieter and more conducive to focusing. If necessary, put up a sign that you are in a quiet zone – “do not disturb.”

Create focus time. If your mobile and computer equipment along with social media are wreaking havoc with your productivity and focus, set up guidelines that allow for checking such equipment at the end of the hour, or during break time or lunch. You will be less likely to allow them to interrupt you if you have mentally preprogrammed yourself to a schedule and stick to it. After all, it is your time and your schedule so you are in control.

Create focus collaboration sessions. It is always important to collaborate and talk with co-workers, peers, clients etc. but control those sessions. Set them for a specific time of the day when you can fully communicate with others or meet with them to solve problems or innovate. A specified time for sessions allows you and them to focus on the important task of raising productivity and efficiency.

Everyone benefits from a workplace environment that consistently supports focus and positively impacts productivity, innovation and influence profitability. If you do not have such an environment then incorporate the strategies above so you can create your own mini microcosm of a focused workplace. Watch as your new environment helps you improve your output and your company’s outcome.

© Pat Heydlauff, all rights reserved 2014

Author's Bio: 

Pat Heydlauff, a “flow of focus” expert, speaker and consultant designs workplace environments that unleash the flow of focus, maximize productivity and transform org charts for future sustainability. She is author of the forthcoming book, Engage, Focus to Fuel Profitability and published books, Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It, The Way We Go, Your Roadmap to a Better Future and Selling Your Home with a Competitive Edge. Contact her at 561-744-2666 or www.engagetolead.com.