Preventing Distractions When Working at Home

We live in an age where the term “information overload” doesn’t even begin to fully capture how easy it is to get distracted while online. Whether you have trouble occasionally focusing, find yourself increasingly bored while at work, or suffer from ADHD, today’s world is brimming with concentration killers.

So what are some of the most common attention span traps, and how can we begin to manage these distractions better and improve your productivity? Here are a few tips to help you adapt and overcome information overload.

Social Media

A wonderful tool for connecting with friends and family from around the world, social media sites such as Facebook, Pintrest, and Twitter also make it startlingly easy to disconnect from work several times an hour. Each status update, tweet, pin, or post derails your train of thought, requiring you to backtrack and regain your focus when you resume your work. The more times you fall out of rhythm at work, the more difficult it becomes to regain your focus and maintain productivity.

To help eliminate social media distractions, avoid logging in while at work. If you feel like going through the workday without checking your favorite social media site is more than you can bare, check it only once every two hours or while on break, when a flood of posts or tweets won’t interrupt your concentration. If you still can’t seem to resist logging on more frequently, take your computer to a location without Internet access for a few hours.

Buried Under Email

There’s something very tantalizing about receiving an email. It suddenly appears in your inbox and sits eagerly waiting to immediately absorb part of your attention. Even though many emails are work-related, they still count as distractions that steal your focus away from the current task at hand. Considering the shear volume of work-related emails some individuals receive each day, taking the time to respond to every message would all but ensure you got little done.

Instead of keeping one eye on the inbox to see if you’ve got mail, make it a point to only check your email once at the beginning of each hour. During the rest of the day, shut down or log off your email so you won’t be tempted to check it continuously. This strategy will allow you set aside blocks of your day when you can work without interruption.

Cell Phone

Perhaps even more difficult to ignore than the a new email or post is the tell tale ring or ping of your cell phone that indicates a new text or phone call has arrived. But just like checking your email, answering your phone or responding to texts can also take you out of a workflow and break your focus on the task at hand.

To decrease your cell phone usage, let any calls go to voicemail that you don’t suspect are urgent and need immediate answering. If working on a project that require much of your focus, consider turning your phone’s ringer off so you’re not tempted to answer, thereby breaking your concentration. Only check your voicemail during certain times of day, and respond to any text messages at the same time. This will help to minimize any potential distractions.


Even individuals who love their jobs can find themselves bored from time to time. Some tasks we are required to work on each day are going to be a little more interesting than others. However, the boring tasks may end up burning through your attention span in only a few minutes, leaving you prone to distractions and idle glances out the window. During these moments, checking your email, glancing at Facebook, or even rearranging your desk can all seem like more appealing options than finishing the task at hand.

To power through these mind-numbing tasks, bribe yourself. Make a deal that if you stay on task for a specific period of time, you will award yourself a 15-minute break, a cup of coffee, snack, or walk around the building. It’s easier to complete a boring task if you have something to look forward to in the end.

Timothy Lemke is a freelance writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. Russell Teasdale, a Invisalign braces Portland, OR Elite Preferred Provider.

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