Do Not Disturb – stop being distracted in the office

When we’re doing team building training, one of the issues that often arises is “distraction”. Here’s how we do things at Think Productive UK HQ.

Elena is one of the stars of the Think Productive UK office, and is on many projects our main linchpin between our client, our Productivity Ninja delivering the workshop and our administrative support.

As such, she gets a lot of questions from the rest of us in the office, all of which interrupt her flow. If she’s in need of some proactive attention time she has a small china kitten that she places on the desk. Everyone else in the office, including me as her boss, knows that when we see the kitten it’s a sign that she needs proactive attention time. We save up our questions or ideas for later and she stays focussed.

I have seen other similar versions of this during my work coaching productivity at people’s real desks. I’ve seen homemade plastic signs, whiteboards, hats, police style tape on the back of a chair – (“Stay back, there’s nothing here to see”) – and many other variations.

Perhaps the simplest and most effective is a big pair of headphones. As well as having the extra practical function that you can drown out the office hubbub with music (which some people love to work to, whilst others find difficult to concentrate with), it’s also a real barrier to you hearing the bits of the conversation or questions aimed at you. If you are interrupted whilst wearing headphones, it’s kind of obvious to the person interrupting you that they’re breaking your flow.

What are your “do not disturb” signs?


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