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    Your biggest workday distractions

    By Sarah Sampaio, Postgraduate Research Middlesex Student

    Your biggest workday distractions (and how to avoid them)

    It can be said technology has improved our multi-tasking abilities while simultaneously decreasing our attention span. The University of Western Ontario performed a study that showed the average attention span for humans in 2015 was 8 seconds – compared to 12 seconds in the year 2000.

    While studying or working, many distractions can get in the way of your productivity and of achieving your goals. Learn what those distractions are, how to avoid them and make a move in 2017 to be more productive!

    1Distraction #1 Tech-based productivity killers: social media platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), texting or watching videos on YouTube. 10 minutes here and there soon turn into an hour, and then half of your day is gone - and you have accomplished nothing.

    How to avoid it: break the habit. Instead of reaching for your phone or logging into social media on the computer, walk away. Take a walk around your room or office, think about the tasks that need to be accomplished that day and make a list. Keep your goals in mind. Another alternative would be to simply delete apps from your mobile and use web-blocker apps so you’re not allowed to use social media and other distracting websites.

    Distraction #2 Cluttered email inbox: cluttered university, personal or work email accounts can be a major source of distraction if you do not know how to manage them. Every time you stop an activity to respond to an email or track a reply, you lower your productivity.

    How to avoid it: before you start your day, take 10-20 minutes to go through your inbox, read, sort and send your emails. It will save you much time during the day.

    4Distraction #3 Deflecting…: when facing a difficult test ahead in school, many of us tend to spend time studying easier subjects or just subjects we like better. We deflect, avoiding the challenge ahead. When instead of studying for that Calculus test, you deflect and study English Literature just because it is your favourite topic. This creates a false sense of achievement; you haven’t focused on the difficult test you were supposed to be preparing for.

    How to avoid it: stop avoiding the difficult subject you need to learn. Only move to something else if the other topic really requires it. If you are stuck on a particularly difficult topic, speak to you instructor and colleagues - ask for help. The same goes for work. If you were given a complex task to fulfil, go for it! Don’t deflect.

    5Distraction #4 Loud neighbours:in any study or work environment, it is possible to face issues with loud noises coming from loud co-workers and colleagues. From coughing to eating and speaking loudly, noises coming from people near you represent an even greater source of distraction than noises coming from machines.

    How to avoid it: bring headphones to either listen to your music at work and school or to simply cancel external noises. You can also use communication to solve the problem: if you’re finding that a poorly placed printer or loud office or studymates are causing too many distractions and interrupting your work, alert an office manager or university staff.

    Student lifestyle posts which reflect the interests of our students are written by student interns working within the Marketing department and do not reflect the research, guidance or opinions of Middlesex University. If you have feedback or want to suggest ideas for future student lifestyle posts, please email

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