Can Internet Distractions Actually Boost Office Productivity?

Here’s something you probably already know: internet distractions are the third biggest time sink in the office. But even so, 46 percent of employees say that the internet still helps them stay productive.

Why distractions can actually help improve productivity

  1. Distractions allow you to take recharging breaks. When your brain wants to focus on something else, that’s actually a signal that it’s getting tired. So take a short break and shift from focused work to unfocused play. This helps you regain focus and relieves some of your stress.
  2. Distractions are a source of fresh ideas. We get distracted because we’re always hungry for new information. So feed your curiosity while cultivating new ideas. Make connections between old and new data. Apply the ideas to your current problems. Change your perspective on things based on fresh information.
  3. Distractions help build relationships. While your personal productivity might suffer, distractions provide the fuel you need for social interaction. News, memes, and even jokes are great for stirring up discussions with coworkers. Social connections help increase employee engagement which in turn is directly related to better performance and productivity.

While distractions can help you become productive, this doesn’t mean that you should allow distractions to run amok in your workplace. Here’s how to take control of distractions so they don’t control you.

How to use internet distractions to be productive:

  1. Show employees how to limit distractions. This means blocking notifications from those extremely distracting non-work apps (we’re looking at you Snapchat). Show your team how to turn off notifications completely so that they only open the app when they want to, not when they get an alert.
  2. Teach staff how to manage their inbox. I’ll admit, email is probably the biggest ¬†technology distraction at the office. In truth, that’s just because of the way people use email. Teach them to keep email apps closed and to check email only during set times of the day. On top of this, it might be best to teach them about inbox zero to remove the nagging feeling they get from unanswered emails.
  3. Let them turn on energizing alerts. Each of us is wired differently. What can be a distraction to one person can be an exhilarating boost to another. Learn what motivates each of your team members and suggest apps that will help fuel their motivation. It can be something that sends positive quotes, displays beautiful scenery, or anything that gives them energy at work.

Help them stay attuned to their energy levels. People get distracted because the brain is getting tired and losing focus. Tell your staff that it’s okay to be distracted when this happens. Explain that the way to recharge is simply by taking a short break to clear their head. This is also an excellent time for them to indulge in their usual distractions without affecting their work.

Too many distractions is a bad thing, that much we can agree upon. But in some ways, distractions do boost productivity, but only if you’re the one in control of your distractions.

Need to limit your social media distractions? Here’s are some tips to stay productive while using social media.

  • Coach Barb

    Loved your post, blocking the notifications has helped me… thank you for sharing.

    • AlexD

      Hi Barb, thanks for the kind words and glad to hear it has helped your productivity. Blocking notifications has really improved my productivity as well – no longer are they unwanted distractions but chosen breaks. Alex