Productivity seems so easy at the beginning of the work day. While you’re buzzing on that first cup of coffee, it seems like anything is possible. Meetings, writing assignments, calls, emails – you’re going to get it all done and in record time!

Until, of course, reality sets in.

That extra boost of morning motivation might make you feel like an unstoppable productivity machine, but there are certain office distractions that have a knack for tripping even the best of us up. Working in an office environment can power teamwork and collaboration, but it also offers countless opportunities for detours.

To help keep us all focused, we’re counting down the top 4 biggest productivity killers in the workplace. From the digital to the down right distracting, here are some pitfalls to recognize before they crush your progress towards your goals:

“Why did we schedule this meeting again?”

If you’ve ever left a meeting scratching your head and wondering why it happened in the first place, you’re not alone. In fact, according to recent reports, there are 25 million meetings per day in the United States, but we’re wasting more than $37 billion per year on unproductive meetings. So, we’re meeting a ton with our teams, but not much is actually getting done!

Instead of letting unnecessary meetings stymie your workflow, do your part to only schedule meetings that are absolutely necessary. Whenever possible, try connecting with teammates to resolve issues in other ways, including a quick one-on-one chat or by connecting digitally. 

Put. The Smartphone. Down.

They’re nearby us at all times. They’re our little digital friends. Heck, at this point, if I’m away from my phone for more than 20 minutes, I could swear I feel it buzzing in my pocket – even if it’s on the other side of the room!

At work, the temptation to check in on that latest notification can often be too much to bear. Don’t even give your smartphone the chance to ruin your productivity! Whenever possible, turn your phone off or on silent when working. If need be, put it out of sight, as well. Instead of periodically checking your device as alerts come in, give yourself a few designated breaks throughout the day to review and respond. 

Email is the New Snail Mail

Gone are the days of those silly chain emails that used to derail our workdays (those kinds of distractions have been reformatted for social media.) However, the amount of time some of us spend in our emails can still be detrimental to productivity.

Do you ever find yourself laboring over the language in an email for the better part of an hour? Is your entire morning spent flagging and categorizing your inbox? If so, it’s probably time to rethink your email strategy. Keep your messages short and to the point, and always include an actionable item set within a tangible timeframe. Often, email chains that can be resolved in one or two messages balloon to ten or more due to unclear communication in the initial outreach. Whenever possible, set up automatic sorting rules for messages you receive often, such as newsletters and repeated status updates. If possible, create clear-cut times that you plan on reviewing and responding to emails and make this schedule available to coworkers.

(Too) Open Office?

When the cubicle walls finally came crashing down in offices across the world, employees cheered the arrival of the open office. On its surface, the open design does seem to foster a more collaborative environment where teamwork can lead to collective achievement.

However, it can also lead to some world-class distractions. Without those old physical barriers in place, your workflow could be in peril from seemingly benign office activities ranging from teammates chatting about the latest episode of Game of Thrones to the sounds of mass exodus swirling all around you  at lunch time. To counteract the open office effect, find time to plug in headphones and immerse yourself in a project when necessary. If your space allows it, break up the day with some time in a one-person breakout room to boost your focus.

Productivity means so many different things to every employee and organization. Yet, productivity killers have the same crushing effects on all of us. Don’t let these common distractions disrupt your flow!

Do you have any other productivity killers in the workplace to share? Join the conversation in our comments section below!