3 Main Factors Why We Are Easily Distracted at Work

18 Aug, 2022 | Read in 6 minutes

Struggling to stay focused is a frustrating problem. Try to use the above strategies to conquer distractions.


Distraction has become a buddy at your workplace, whether you work from home, from the office, or your favourite coffee shop. The simple truth is that we all face distractions daily, perhaps every hour. If you feel it, keep reading.

The focus becomes priceless in super busy and often overwhelming lives. It's also getting harder and harder to find. There's so much going on, and a five-minute focus is sometimes too hard.

With so many conversations, calls, emails, meetings to attend, social media notifications, and other distractions, staying productive and focused is often a real challenge.

70% of workers feel disturbed at work. According to a Survey from Udemy, too many distractions leave workers to handle this:

  • 50% said they feel less productive.
  • 54% said they aren't performing as well as they should.
  • 20% say they can't reach their full potential.

Udemy also revealed that talkative co-workers were the most common distraction (80% of workers surveyed). Office noise ranked second (70%), and 58% said they could not control their desire to check social media.

Then how do you stay focused when many factors are distracting?

First, dive into the disturbances that you frequently experience. Make categories whether they come, is it from yourself or external factors. When you know the core of the problem, you can overcome it.

Understanding what trouble focusing is all about

Too many distractions make us unfocused. We all know that not everyone can focus easily. This makes it even more frustrating when you've tried so much advice from Quora, Medium or Google, but they don't work. However, the focus problems break down into two groups:

1. Don’t know what to do

We've tried desperately to focus and avoid many distractions but failed.

This is the feeling when we open a blank Microsoft Word the night before it is due. We are just speechless and stare at the blinking cursor. Know that you have been distracted by yourself.

2. Don’t know how to do it

Too much to do but so little time. The main problem is time management and setting priorities. Even though you have a lot of work, you still have time to check social media or even answer a friend's invitation to go to a cafe. Even if you understand your goals, procrastination and social factors are distractions.

No matter how hard you work, you can't seem to cut through the grey haze because you don't know how to prioritise.

Why do we easily get distracted at work?

From all the descriptions above, we can conclude that the disturbance will continually change over time. One of the best ways to deal with it is to identify the issue and decide on tactics to deal with it.

In general, three main factors make us so easily distracted. These factors are internal factors, social factors and environmental factors. Each element has a different way of solving.

1. Internal Factors

Internal factors are factors that come from within. Here are some of them:

1. Procrastination Habits

The first internal factor that affects self-focus is the habit of procrastinating. From childhood to adulthood, we have to finish our tasks on time. Unfortunately, many deadlines are not calculated or arbitrary like the homework pages.

As a result, we often carry this habit to work. Procrastination makes us lose focus and subconsciously trains the brain to look for the distraction itself. The brain will get used to doing everything it can to avoid unwanted things; tasks. So stop procrastinating. Try to be organised.

2. No Goal or Objectives

Of course, no goal makes us easily distracted. Let's dive into this analogy; when you study at university, you must choose a major. The choice of majors will be one of the directions for life goals. Imagine when you just learn without knowing your focus. You will be confused about where to start and feel there is much to learn.

Simply, having no goals to work toward will lower your motivation and make it hard to focus. After all, you (all of us) need the motivation to stick with long-term goals.

3. You're Not Taking Breaks

We're not machines to be focused always; our brains weren't designed for that. Even if you feel unproductive today, taking lots of breaks can be a solution. You can't force yourself to be focused all the time. You need rest.

Avoiding rest causes fatigue that leads to loss of concentration. Finally, tiredness distracts you.

If you're having trouble finding time to rest, try the Podomoro technique. This productivity technique provides periodic breaks of five minutes. You can also use the timer to set the interval.

4. Time Management Issues

"Time management is pain management" - Nir Eyal.

The way we schedule our days, if done unintentionally, becomes a tendency to avoid discomfort. Instead of forcing ourselves to work on top priorities in the morning, most of us will pencil it in after lunch. This makes the work seem never finished.

Start to learn time management. Slowly, you will feel the benefits of being more focused and getting a work-life balance.

2. Social Life

It is inevitable that our social life also causes distractions at work. This is not something we can avoid because all humans need socialisation. But we can control it through ourselves.

1. High-stress job or lifestyle

A high-stress job or a complicated lifestyle is the main factor in how easily we lose focus. Imagine how difficult it is for a housewife who works and takes care of the house (shout out to all working moms!). They have to balance the concentration of work with home, and they find it stressful.

When constantly worrying about many things at once, it's hard to focus on your priorities. Because it is essential to set the portion of each and be aware of the signals within yourself to know when you need to take a break from work.

2. Chatty coworkers

We've all had a chatty co-worker. They are sunshine when you're stuck and burnout, but sometimes they can be a nuisance. We can't completely control what they do, but we can control our responses.

Try to talk about how you need to focus on getting work done. Tell them that you are more productive when things are quiet and lonely. Or close the door to your room when you need to concentrate, so co-workers can't get in easily.

3. Social media

Social media notifications are one of the reasons why we are easily distracted. Again, we can't avoid them because sometimes they have a lot of information. But we can control our reactions.

Turn off notifications when you need to concentrate. Calm your mind and slowly finish your tasks. Eliminate the urge to check social media by playing your favourite playlist. Besides boosting focus, playlists also add to the mood for the better.

3. Environment

Environmental factors are the last reason why you are easily distracted. Similar to social factors, sometimes we cannot control environmental factors. But we can deal with it if we understand the core problem.

1. Office noise

Take a break and listen to all the noise in your office or workspace. People talking, machines running, vehicle sounds, telephone ringing or even car horns. Background noise is unavoidable.

When you're distracted, try using noise-cancelling headphones or moving to a quieter area. You can't tell the vehicle's sound to stop or stop the machine's sound. What you can do is overcome through yourself.

2. Too much clutter in the workspace

Many cluttered objects on your desk grab your attention. Even basic things like notes, books or food scramble for your focus. One study revealed that putting mobile phones at work desks reduces productivity.

Simplify your desk. Conduct a weekly review of your space and sort and remove physical clutter.

In Conclusion

Struggling to stay focused is a frustrating problem. Try to use the above strategies to conquer distractions. This must be hard! Don't give up because you will reap the rewards.

Feel free to use productivity tools to stay focused. In addition to making it easier to set focus, the tools will simplify work. Feel the difference and be more focused!

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