Is a website blocker the answer to workplace distractions?Article by The MiNDSPACE team - 05 April 2019 - Read Time: 4 min
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The average South African employee works 50% of the time and is distracted 30 to 40 times a day. Here are a few tips on how to increase productivity in the workplace.

'It may come as no surprise that employees in leadership positions have higher performing workspaces, but the gulf between the haves and the have-nots is dramatic. The starkest representation of the difference is in the allocation of private offices – 89% of those in senior leadership have private offices, compared to 23% at lower levels of the organisation – and the impact shows across all performance and experience metrics,’ according to a 2016 UK workplace study by Gensler, a global architecture firm.

While some distractions are unavoidable and cannot be ignored – a crisis that requires you to drop everything you’re working on – there are ways to lessen the impact others have on your focus.

1. Take care of the one thing that distracts you most

Smartphones are one of the biggest culprits. One option is to put it away in a drawer but turn up the volume on the phone so you can still hear it ring. If something is really important the person will call. Save WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for your coffee break.

2. Make Google Chrome work for you

The average South African spends 2 hours 54 minutes on social media each day, and most of it is on a computer, says Sandton-based digital agency Qwerty in its 2017 report The Digital Landscape in South Africa – and these stats don’t consider random internet searches that lead you down a rabbit hole.

Luckily Google Chrome has a few handy extensions. Work Mode blocks all social media. Although it's within your power to turn it off, seeing your Google window collapse when you try to go to a social media site is almost like being rapped across the knuckles. If you need something stronger, there’s StayFocusd, an app that blocks all sites you add to the ‘block’ list for a specified number of hours.

Co-workers who decorate their work space with baby pictures, motivational quotes and plants may be onto something.

3. Stake your claim

Employees in cubicles receive 29% more interruptions than those in private offices, writes Jason Feifer at Fast Company, and consequently are 9% more exhausted at the end of the day. A psychological study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology says that employees in ‘low-privacy spaces that were generic and undecorated’ reported the highest levels of emotional exhaustion.

Co-workers who decorate their workspace with baby pictures, motivational quotes and plants may be onto something.

4. The power of plants

Arranging pot plants on the edge of your desk will help absorb noise pollution. Plants with rough bark and thick, fleshy leaves are particularly effective at absorbing sound and several smaller plants are more effective than one big tree. Plants also reduce ‘visual noise’, the annoying activity and movement on the periphery of your vision.

5. Beat the late-afternoon doldrums

The last hour of the day is typically a dead zone and can be prevented by taking the right kind of lunchtime break. For starters, have lunch away from your desk but take things a step further and go for a short walk outside, even if it’s around the quad in your office block. Invite a colleague along. The best breaks are social ones where you talk about something that is not work, says Daniel Pink, an expert on productivity and behaviour. Lunchtime workouts have also been found to boost productivity, creativity and efficiency, provided you leave your phone behind and don’t watch the TV at gym or read a book while cycling.

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