Work Hard, Play Hard: Top 10 Tips for Managing Distractions in your Workplace

A phone that never seems to stop ringing, colleagues that just want to chat, last-minute/disorganised meetings, countless daily emails, or demanding children (if we work from home). We all experience and juggle distractions in the workplace on a daily basis. These distractions “have the ability to draw us in, take us off track and cause us to lose hours of our time, as they affect our ability to concentrate, and get the job done!” says Organisation and Management Consultant, Louise D’Allura.

Distraction management is definitely an area I can improve on. So I sought advice from some experts in the field, as well as those with experience and success in managing the distractions in their workplace.

This is what we came up with – here are our 10 top tips for managing distractions in your workplace (short of going AWOL!):

1. Establish what your role is and what you want to achieve
2. Plan your time
3. Manage meetings and avoid being “the go-to problem-solver”
4. Manage distractions from work colleagues and employees
5. Work from a different location
6. Tips for working from home
7. Disconnect from Social Media
8. Disconnect from email
9. “If I don’t do this task now, I’ll forget about it”
10. Take a break

1. Establish what your role is and what you want to achieve

The first step to managing distractions is to consider what you want to accomplish, or basically, what you are being paid to do, advises Louise D’Allura. “Before you even look at how to manage distractions the key is to understand what it is you’re paid to do. What are your KPI’s (key performance indicators)?” Asking this simple question will help you focus and prioritise the tasks at hand. “If you know how you will be judged you will be able to ensure you’re asking yourself ‘am I doing the tasks that represent the highest value to my organisation?’ Knowing this helps you to work out if your job is to solve other people’s problems then you need to have strategies in place to help you get your work done, AND meet the requirements of your role,” advises Louise.  After defining what it is you need to achieve, the next step is identifying the things (or distractions) that prevent you from doing this. “Without awareness you can’t change what you don’t know. So do an audit, get feedback from trusted colleagues and friends,” says Louise. 

Louise D’Allura from The Revamp Experience

Louise recommends considering the below questions to “work out what is working and what’s not”:
• Do you always offer to help when it isn’t asked?
• Do you attend too many meetings?
• Do you know what To Dos you have to do and how long they will take?
• Do you know how you’re performing?

2. Plan your time

It sounds obvious, but the more you plan what you’re going to do, the better you’ll manage distractions. Business Coach, Maureen Pound suggests two ways that you can make better use of your time:

1. “Block your activities in chunks rather than trying to multitask and getting distracted switching from one thing to another.”

2. “Plan what you are going to focus on for the day and the week. The clearer you are about what is important to get done, the less likely you are to be distracted.”

3. Manage meetings and avoid being “the go-to problem-solver”

There are always a couple of people in every organisation who are looked to in times of crisis for their problem-solving abilities. “If you’re the one everyone relies on when there is a crisis – but you’re still working late getting around to your work at the end of the day, the question is how do you still contribute to your workplace without getting drawn into everything? If this sounds familiar it won’t surprise you to know that a lot of people who struggle with this, hate to let others down by saying no – even if it leads to them being overwhelmed by work/commitments and no time for family,” says Louise.

The solution? Louise advises to “Work out who are the people that can interrupt you vs those you can ask to get back to when it suits YOU. Always ask how long will it take (and assume they are terrible estimators!); work on your standard lines so you don’t get drawn into conversations!”

In regards to meetings, the trick is to work out if you really need to attend before-hand. Ask questions such as: “if the meetings have clear outcomes and agendas? Are the essential people that need to be there, there? or is it every man and his dog?…ask these questions, and get out of attending if you can,” advises Louise.


4. Manage distractions from work colleagues and employees

We all have certain times of the day when we work best and it’s important that others we work with understand this (and vice versa!). “Manage distractions and interruptions. Research shows it takes most people 10 minutes to return to focused work after they have been interrupted,” says Joshua Uebergang from Online Visions. We need to be proactive and part of the solution in managing the distractions around us – quite often it’s all about training.

“Communicate with those who distract you. Say when you can be approached, explaining your reason to help them understand it’s not personal. It helps to designate a time-period for your most important tasks where you “train” people to never interrupt,” advises Joshua.

Maureen Pound believes that a consistent approach is the most successful: “Tell people you don’t want to be disturbed during certain times. Try to keep them the same each week, so people know not to interrupt during those times.”An “open plan working environment can be fun when co-workers have a healthy balanced relationship,” says Anna, blogger at

“However even in a fun office it can be difficult to survive when everyone is in the same room. Personally, as a writer I struggle with noise. However it has been a year now of me trying to get used to this open plan office design and I must say I am getting better”. Anna’s tips for surviving in a noisy, open-plan office are:

1. Exercise your selective hearing – the more you try to isolate your mind from the noise the better it will become eventually.

2. If you cannot tune into the work mode while everyone else is talking around you, get head phones. This is what I do as well. Head phones plugged into my phone or working computer with the type of music which helps me concentrate.

3. Ask others to shut up! Always an option but might appear to be a little rude.

4. Demand to have a personal office. Might also result in a negative outcome.

5. Pay attention to when your co-workers are louder and plan your writing work (or whatever cannot be done in the noisy environment) around it.

Failing this, you could always try working off-site…

5. Work from a different location

There is such a thing as being too accessible. If you work in an office with other colleagues or employees, they will come to you with (often well-intentioned) questions. You’re there and it’s easier for them to quickly ask you a question, rather than trying to work something out for themselves. Even if it’s a quick question, lots of them can be exceptionally distracting.

Amanda Tallent, CEO Bennetts Boots wide calf boots identifies with this situation; “We have shops and a main office but my husband (business partner) and I decided to work from home. In part to get the space to get our work done, when we are at the head office we are bombarded with questions and can’t help get distracted, resulting on us working in the business instead of ON the business”. Amanda raises a good point in that your job as business owner/director is to work ON your business. You need to schedule time to do this, so being inaccessible by working away from the office, or letting your team know when you can’t be disturbed is a good start.

Sometimes working from home is not always the best solution, as Amanda says that their three-year-old daughter can also be a distraction, “As wonderful as it is to both be close to her as she’s growing up, the reality of trying to do a phone training session while she’s asking the same question over and over even though you have answered it, or deciding to sing at the top of her voice just as you pick up the phone…is proving to be more challenging than we had first thought”.

Pick your locations – sometimes a table in the corner of your local coffee shop is as good as anywhere!

6. Tips for working from home

• Limit your housework tasks and use them to your advantage
The challenge of working from home, rather than from an office each day is that you can’t escape the mess that surrounds you – dirty dishes, washing, clothes that are begging to be folded, etc. It’s also amazing how much housework gets done when you have a deadline or need to get something completed. Housework is a great procrastination tool, but you can use it to your advantage, says Darryl van Rooy. “Each hour – do some small and quick home duties – clean the toilet. Again, it’s a time signal and a break for your brain. Also if you have a crappy day at work and feel like you have achieved nothing, at least you can say the toilet is clean – you have achieved something.”

• Remove the distraction
Writers have an established reputation for being the masters of procrastination, but writer Helen Collier is on a mission to quash this preconception. “As a writer I sometimes just need to crack on and get the article finished. Working from home has its benefits, but when I first started working for myself I found that I was so busy with my non-work related distractions, that half a day could go by and no work has been achieved. I’m also a puppy owner and he has other ideas about what we should spend our time doing and comes and regularly nudges my elbow and looks at me longingly.” Helen’s advice is simple: “remove these distractions – out of sight out of mind. Puppy goes outside with a bone, and mobile and email are switched off. If I don’t know about it, I can’t get distracted by it. And the cooking and washing, well…there’s plenty of time for all that once my article is done and dusted”.

7. Disconnect from Social Media

“Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pintrest, Tumblr – OFF. Have a play at lunchtime when you’re munching your sandwich,” says Darryl van Rooy, owner of Sunbury Carpet Cleaning.

8. Disconnect from email

• Limit how frequently you check your email
How long could you last without checking your email? In some businesses, email is more critical than others, but most businesses could probably get away with checking emails a couple of times a day, rather than every five minutes.

Darryl advises, “Don’t fire up your email program until you need to send an email. This will mean the emails that people have sent to you won’t be actioned straight away. You will answer them – if you take some time to respond, it gives the impression that you are busy. Other business people don’t really like dealing with people that have nothing to do – it gives the impression that you are a poor business performer.”

• Turn off email alerts
The “bing” alert noise that most smart phones produce when we receive an email these days fuel our desire to procrastinate on what’s important – TURN THEM OFF! Maureen Pound agrees, “Turn of any sort of beeps to signal arrival of new emails or messages. Checking them will only distract you and get you off-task”. The same also applies to your phone, says Maureen: “Turn off your phone if you would not like to be disturbed. Surely people can wait an hour or two for you to get back to them”.

9.  “If I don’t do this task now, I’ll forget about it”

GUILTY! Often the small, simple jobs that we think will “only take a minute” take longer than we expect, and cause us to lose focus and forget about what we were originally working on. “Have your diary open and if something flashes into your head, write it down on the day it needs to be done,” advises Darryl.

10. Take a break

Darryl van Rooy has run his own business, Sunbury Carpet Cleaning for five years now. Whilst it might sound strange to stop working, Darryl believes that having morning and afternoon tea breaks are essential, especially for home based businesses, as they “give your brain a chance to relax and you also tell yourself that half the morning/afternoon is gone – that might make you work faster or pat yourself on the back for getting a lot done”.

Thanks to our contributors for their wise words:

Amanda Tallent, Bennetts Boots: Bennetts Boots specialise in high-quality leather boots for wide calves, whilst keeping fit, function and fashion first-of-mind.

Darryl van Rooy, Sunbury Carpet Cleaning: Darryl’s business specialises in carpet and mattress sanitizing services in Sunbury, Macedon Ranges and Northwestern Suburbs of Melbourne.

Joshua Uebergang, Online Visions: Online Visions is a specialist ecommerce design, development, and marketing company based in Brisbane.

Helen Collier, Just Words – Helen is a freelance writer and PR pundit. She hopes her clients never realise how much she’s juggling at one time!   

Maureen Pound, Business Coach – Maureen Pound is the business coach for the brave. Are you a capable person who is procrastinating at the moment? Contact Maureen for a complimentary procrastination buster session at

Louise D’Allura, The Revamp Experience – Louise is an Organisation/Time Management Consultant and Mentor for The Revamp Experience. Since 2009 The Revamp Experience has been helping individuals and organisations increase their energy, decrease their stress and regain control of their time, workspace and well-being.

Anna, blogger at
Anna is a blogger with a keen interest in fitness and business. Blogging for a living (and for fun) Anna loves researching and writing about these areas, as well as a variety of other topics.

It’s Sale Time!

Mr Gift

It’s the sale that only happens twice a year – yep, it’s STOCKTAKE SALE TIME!!!

There’s lots of stock for us to count at the end of this Financial Year, so we’re appealing for your help by offering a STORE WIDE 20% DISCOUNT until 5pm Sunday 30 June 2013. You get a bargain, and there’s less for us to count – WIN WIN!

This is a VIP sale offer, only available to those ‘in the know’. To redeem your discount, enter coupon code STOCKTAKE in the ‘Use Coupon Code’ field when you place your order. Please note that this offer can’t be used in conjunction with any other offers.

PS: You can forward this email onto family and friends so they can enjoy this discount too.

PPS: Want a chance to win $1000? Scroll to the bottom of this email to find out how…

Gadget Gifts on sale

YOUR CHANCE TO WIN $1000 Visa Gift Card:
1. Click on this link:
2. ‘Like’ all business’ Facebook pages (Mr Gift has teamed up with 24 other small businesses to run this comp)
3. Winner will be drawn on the evening of 27 June 2013.

What’s New:

Don’t forget, we also offer FREE GIFT WRAPPING for all orders. Just type GIFT WRAP in the Comments box when you order.

What’s on in June 2013

Winter has arrived, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s hibernating inside. Check out this month’s exciting round up of events for young and old. There are some tempting events to get you outside and fill your lungs with the brisk winter air, but even if you want to hibernate inside, you can do it in style with a nice glass of wine and a delicious plate of food – enjoy!


1 June – Mountain Design Adventure Race, Creswick, VIC
If you’ve got a passion for the great outdoors and fitness, check out Mountain Design Adventure Races. It doesn’t matter if you’re not an expert with a map and compass because the series now includes a Magellan Explore course where participants can use a GPS.

What is Mountain Design Adventure Racing?

• A new concept in adventure racing that caters for individuals and teams, from beginner level through to experienced racers.
• A varied course that includes compulsory legs of mountain biking, trail running and trekking, then a choice of adventure legs which can include anything from kayaking, swimming, canoeing, rock climbing, canyoning, tubing, white water rafting, coasteering, abseiling or archery.
• Races include three levels of difficulty:

1. HARDCORE: A longer race for more experienced participants
2. RAW: A shorter event for beginners and those new to map reading
3. MAGELLAN EXPLORE: An event for beginners with GPS navigation

Don’t worry if you miss this race – Mountain Design Adventure Races take place in most states, so check out and for further details.

8 June – Little Kickers “Kick for Gold” Tote Park, Zetland
Little Kickers is raising funds for the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Gold Telethon by hosting a community event focused on soccer activities. Both adults and children will be encouraged to give a gold coin donation to “Kick for Gold” into the Little Kickers goals. There will also face painting and a variety of food on offer – a great event for the family.
Check out the Little Kickers event page on Facebook.

16 June – MCG Stadium Stomp
Stair walking is one of the best ways to improve your fitness. If you’ve ever walked up a few more flights of stairs than you’re used to, then you’d understand how sore your legs can get! The MCG Stadium Stomp is not for the faint-hearted. It’s Australia’s longest consecutive stair climb challenge – the first event of its kind in Australia. “It is not a competition or a race, but a personal test of stamina and concentration.”

How it works
There are two courses:
Course 1 (half course):
• A complete circuit of the MCG’s Level 1 seating bowl, walking up or down every flight of stairs between the seats on that level until back to the start.
• 1,890 steps (20 minutes to complete).

Course 2 (full course):
• Entrants walk up to Level 4 to complete a second circuit of the MCG; again walking up or down every flight of stairs between the seats on that level until back to the start.
• 7,343 steps (from 45 minutes to more than two hours to complete, depending on fitness levels).

Staggered start times from 8am to 3pm will ensure the stairs won’t become too congested.

Did you know: Climbing a flight of stairs (10 steps) is the equivalent calorie burn of taking 38 steps on level ground, so it’s almost four times as beneficial to take the stairs.
Visit for entry details.

16 June – Stockland Caloundra Foreshore Fun Run, Qld
Kick-start your Sunday with a picturesque run past some of Queensland’s gorgeous beaches, such as Golden, Bulcock, Kings and Shelly beaches before reaching the finish line by climbing over the Moffat Headland. There’s a 3km and 10km course to cater for all ages and fitness levels – everyone is encouraged to enter. There’s also a prize pool of $500 for first prize, $200 for second and $100 for third, as well as other fun prizes to be won. Check out for entries and more details.


22 June – 5 Lands Walk, Central Coast, NSW

Italy’s Cinque Terra is the inspiration behind the 5 Lands Walk. The festival runs for a day and highlights 10km of picturesque coastline of the central coast. Visitors can look forward to:

  • A FREE 10km walk that connects five different festivals taking place at each of the Surf Clubs of the 5 Lands
  • Stunning beach, bush and headland vistas
  • Aboriginal ceremony and culture
  • Music
  • Food
  • Artworks
  • Gigantic kites
  • Whales
  • Dance
  • Sculptures on the beach
  • Craft workshops and much, much more.

This is an unmissable celebration of the culture of five different ethnic communities thriving in this incredible part of Australia.

Find out more at


29-30 June – NSW Tough Bloke Challenge, Appin, NSW
Could you climb a 50 metre rope? With a course that sounds like a Steve ‘Commando’ Willis training session, the NSW Tough Bloke Challenge promises a world of pain. The 8km cross-country course features obstacles such as: mud pits, zip-lines, trenches covered with barbed wire, swings, tyre towers, dark concrete tunnels, ice-cold water crossings and many more endurance challenges. The highlight of the event is the 50 metre rope climb – a first in obstacle course race history. There’s $1000 up for grabs for the person who makes it up the rope in the quickest time. The event is open to men and women over 12 years-old, as well as beginners and veterans. Everyone that completes the course will receive a finishers medal. Money raised from the event will go to the McGrath Foundation. Check out
 for more info and to enter, or watch a video on the event here.

1-30 June – The Great Calorie Drive, Zumba Fitness
This month you can use your Zumba workouts to not only burn calories, but also donate them. Zumba Fitness (the largest dance-fitness company in the world) has committed to “donate the equivalent of the average amount of calories burned per class (750 calories, for up to three classes) to Feeding America and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)…Zumba Fitness is challenging the world to donate 2.6 billion calories that will equate to 3.5 million meals (based on the typical meal size) toward hunger-relief efforts”. Get involved today by visiting


8 June – Rekorderlig Cider ‘Efter Ski’, Thredbo
If you’re heading off to Thredbo for the long weekend, keep an eye out for Rekorderlig Cider’s brand new winter experience, ‘Efter Ski’ at Thredbo Alpine Village. Efter Ski commences on 8 June and runs until 8 September at Thredbo Alpine Hotel. The Alpine Hotel Pool will be heated (just like a Scandinavian natural spring) and will be the main location for Beautifully Swedish Hot Pool Parties with DJ’s throughout the weekend. Bring your swimmers and Rekorderlig will supply the towels, and of course, the cider. Make sure you try Rekorderlig’s Winter Cider, which is a blend of fresh apples infused with warming cinnamon spice and vanilla – perfect with the warm cinnamon scrolls that will also be on offer. We could think of worse ways to relax after a day on the slopes… Check out for more info.

9-10 June – McLaren Vale BankSA Sea and Vines Food & Wine Festival with De Lisio Wines, Visitor Information Centre
If you’re in South Australia over the June long weekend, don’t miss the McLaren Vale BankSA Sea and Vines Food & Wine Festival. De Lisio Wines will be hosting several food and wine sessions for breakfast, lunch and afternoon meals, accompanied with their wines. Local Adelaide band, Harry and the Hitmen will also by playing as you relax and enjoy your food and wine experience. Specialty dishes include: Fruit salad – with fresh seasonal fruits in a vanilla bean syrup served with blueberry yogurt $7.00 (breakfast), spiced salt & pepper squid with steak fries & fresh chive aioli $11.00, wagyu Beef & stout pies with a creamy skordalia mash $11.00 and sticky date pudding with caramel sauce, brandy custard and double cream $7.00. If you can’t make the Sunday sessions or you want to do it all again on Monday, head back to the visitor centre for more food, wine and fun. Adelaide rock ‘n roll band, The Blue Comets will be your musical entertainment on Monday, from 11am-4pm.
Check out http: and De Lisio’s Facebook page.

14 June – Winter Wonderland at Zuri, Brisbane
Zuri’s signature cocktails featuring Tequila Patron or Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey will keep you feeling toasty and warm this winter. Order a winter cocktail with these signature spirits and you go into the draw to win a Chemical Storm Snowboard worth $650. Get cosy on Zuri’s leather coaches and enjoy free entry all night from 5pm or warm yourself up on the dance floor with live DJs until late. Check out for more.

16 June – 60 Years of Italian Flavour @ Enoteca Sileno, Lygon St, Melbourne
Melbourne’s iconic Italian institution, Enoteca Sileno is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. To mark this special occasion, they invite you to join them at their Lygon Street store for an Italian-style culinary extravaganza. There will be product tastings and demonstrations from 10am-4pm and best of all, it’s FREE! Probably best not to make dinner plans that day. Check out for venue details.

22 June – Central Coast Craft Beer & Cider Festival, Kincumber, Central Coast NSW
Not many people could pass up a good old-fashioned craft beer and cider festival, especially when they have 18 brewers offering 84 beers and ciders. Visitors can look forward to local favourites such as Six String’s brews. Live entertainment, raffles and giveaways will all kick off at 11am. Get the low-down here:

 The Six String guys


21 June – City Evolutions, Newcastle
City Evolutions is a contemporary art project that will see “heritage listed buildings, historic townhouses and colonial terraces along Newcastle’s oldest street brought to life through colourful cinematography, lavish light ups and interactive installations”. Visitors can enjoy the magical ambience of interactive projections on ten sites around Watt Street from sunset until 10pm each evening. City Evolutions will initially run for twelve months and installations will be updated on a regular basis. The official launch of City Evolutions will take place from 5pm Friday 21 June 2013 at Watt Street, Newcastle East and will include a ceremony, music, food, street performances and more. Check out for more details.


15 June – Around the World in 80 Questions Trivia Night Challenge, Terrey Hills, Sydney
f you’re a Trivia Guru, don’t miss the German International School’s Around the World in 80 Questions Trivia Night Challenge. Participants can expect questions such as:
• What is the only word in the English language that is spelled with three consecutive sets of double letters?
• Where would you find the sea of tranquility?
Brush up on your general knowledge – it’s for a good cause as the school is trying to raise funds to upgrade their sporting equipment. Bookings are essential at

28 June – Children’s Promise End of Tax Year Party, Byron Bay
Join the Children’s Promise team as they see out this FY2012/2013 in style with a fun evening that will include an auction and more to raise money for this very worthy cause. Visit for more details.


8-10 June – The Toy and Game Expo, Sydney Olympic Park
It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 105 – you’re going to love The Toy and Game Expo this Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Highlights include:
• The world’s largest ball of Play-Doh (weighing around 250kg) that the kids can help create
• Nerf N-Strike Elite Battle Arena
• Lego or Play-Doh pits
• The Australian Boardgaming Championships
• The world’s largest jigsaw that you can help put together
There will be toys for girls and boys and kids of all ages – from latest releases to classic favourites.

Money raised from the event will go towards the Spinal Injury Support Program at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Buy tickets online and find out more at

Left to right: Charlotte Dale age 6yrs, Emily Dale 4yrs at the Toy and Game Expo

13-16 June – Sydney Fair
Art Deco, Art Modern, 20th Century and Retro are some of the gorgeous eras that will be showcased at the Sydney Fair this month. If you love high-quality vintage products, including: furniture, art and posters, sculpture, glass and ceramics, jewellery and vintage couture, then get yourself over to Byron Kennedy Hall at Moore Park. In addition to the treasure-trove of rare and collectable pieces for sale, there will also be a fashion parade and a jazz party. The Sydney Fair offers a rare opportunity to access lots of specialty exhibitors that don’t usually appear at fairs. Check out

for more details.


Examples of some of the gorgeous pieces that will be available at The Sydney Fair


7-10 June – MindBodySpirit Festival, Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre
If your mind, body or spirit needs a bit of TLC, head to the MindBodySpirit festival in Melbourne this coming long weekend. Visitors can look forward to speakers, performers, seminars and workshops as well as a bunch of really cool stands and an abundance of inspiring people. Barbara Gabogrecan, author of new book, Thank God I Had a Stroke is an aforementioned inspiring person. Following a stroke, further tests revealed that Barbara had a brain tumour. Following surgery, Barbara was told to expect an extensive recovery in hospital – up to 3 months. Barbara was home on day 7. The state of Barbara’s mind was the reason behind her quick recovery, suggested the medical team working with her.

Barbara’s road to recovery was not an entirely smooth one. She now has Alexia without Agraphia, which means that she can’t read – although she can still write. This new challenge presented Barbara with the opportunity “to boost my spirit and to show myself that I can do whatever I want to, regardless of my disabilities – I just had to figure out ‘how’”.

Writing a book certainly stretched Barbara and she recalls, “It was more difficult than I expected as every page I wrote my husband had to read it back to me so that I was sure that I had actually said what I intended to”. Determination and perseverance paid off in the end and Barbara has now published her book. She will be signing copies at the festival, so make sure you stop by Stand A48 and say hi. Visit
for more festival information.

22 June – Shine Sydney’s Monks, Millionaires and Money, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Shine Sydney’s Monks, Millionaires and Money event might just change your life. This event promises to “change the way you think about creating money, wealth and abundance in your life”. A group of inspiring entrepreneurs will share their stories and cover topics such as:
● How to avoid the common traps that stop the flow of money
● How to create a new relationship with money
● Experiencing the innate connection between love and money
● How to become an attractor field for money
● Engaging in empowering conversations
Check out for tickets and more info.