Productivity Killer: What To Do When Your Colleague Distracts You


There are already enough distractions that aim to kill your productivity in the workplace. What can you do when a colleague adds to the noise?

Business Insider reported that research from the University of California - Irvine found that the typical worker is only able to spend 11 minutes on a task before getting interrupted or moving on to another project. Professor Gloria Mark, who led the study, revealed that it can take approximately 23 minutes to get one's momentum back once workflow has been disrupted.

The publication shared tips on what to do when a colleague distracts you. These are intended to help you stay productive in the workplace.

1. Stand up.

When your workmate drops by your desk, stand up and talk to them. Cathy Sexton, a productivity strategist, author and founder of The Productivity Experts revealed that it's much easier to cut a conversation short when both parties are standing up rather than when the both of you get comfortable.

2. Set yourself apart.

Sometimes, simply hanging a "do not disturb" sign is enough to keep potential gossip mates at bay. It is also good to check whether you play a part in people interrupting you. Having a candy jar on your desk would make you an easy victim for visitors.

3. Create "Talk to" lists

This type of list can be used to batch several questions together, including to-dos and talking points into one email. This will eliminate the need for constant back-and-forth email chains or impromptu cut-ins.

"When you have a lot of recurring interactions with someone, like a colleague or your boss, you often think of things that you want or need to share with that person," Author Maura Thomas, founder of, said. "Rather than emailing every time you think of something, create a 'Talk to' list for that person."

Make sure that your colleague addresses every part of the message. This would result to less disruptive communication.

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