by Joelle Schoenherr

Between the numerous forms of social media, chatty coworkers, and the rapid onset of boredom in our society, it is no wonder that distraction is an enormous problem. In a recent study conducted by Sendouts, the greatest obstacle in the recruiting workplace was distraction, whether personal or external. However, this issue transcends the world of recruiters. It is an issue we face in every facet of our lives. We would rather do anything than work, clean, exercise, run errands, etc. So what can we do to fix this horrible problem? My advice: embrace it.

1. Set Aside Time for Social Media

Recruiters spend a lot of time on the phone. It can be frustrating to make dozens of calls without any results and it is easy to turn to Facebook or Twitter to escape the tediousness and disappointment of these unsuccessful phone calls. Instead of sneaking onto these sites, plan your visits. Work diligently for an hour, and then peruse Facebook for ten minutes or so. Get it out of your system and get back to the phone.

2. Listen to Music

Distractions are not always personal. Sometimes we have noisy neighbors making their own phone calls or coworkers chitchatting about their kid’s soccer game. If you can’t focus with their babbling, pop in some headphones (if you are not on the phone and it is permitted in your office). According to a study by Huang and Shih, music can alleviate restlessness and distraction. Just be careful not to choose your favorite genre. If the song is too interesting, or even strongly disliked, that in itself can become distracting. Instrumental music is best for this reason. The Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack and Chopin are two that work for me.

3. Keep the Cell on Silent

As a member of Generation Y, this is a tough one for me. Outside of work, I am (embarrassingly) glued to my phone, but texting on the job is seriously unprofessional. Just put the phone away. Text during your social media breaks or meet the friends you’re aching to text for lunch, if possible. I have no doubts that you only text about the most vital things (Who won the Cardinals game last night? or How did the date go?), but we both know it’s not worth reprimands from the boss or disapproval from coworkers.

4. Take a Walk

If you find yourself stuck with a project or entirely too stressed to focus, leave it alone for a few minutes. Those of us that sit at desks all day need to stretch our legs periodically to keep our minds sharp, and it’s always beneficial to get some fresh air. So take a stroll around the building, climb a few flights of stairs, try to touch your toes. It’s amazing what an impact a ten minute escape and a little exercise can have on your mood, not to mention your ability to stay alert and be productive.

5. Start the Day Right

Like Will Smith said in Hitch, “Begin each day as if it were on purpose.” Go to bed early enough that you can wake early, feeling refreshed and prepared for the day. Do some yoga. Eat a healthy, filling breakfast. It is the worst feeling to sit at your desk feeling tired or hungry and realize you have seven hours of work left. When you have more serious issues pressing on your mind than the task at hand (like the fact that you skipped breakfast or only slept four hours), something as simple as checking your email becomes a challenge. Before you know it, you are day dreaming about a turkey sandwich and thinking how comfy your bed would be. Wake up with a plan, keep a routine, and stick to it.

This post originally appeared at

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