Sometimes the office can be the most distracting place. Often times the people and objects that are present to help us can be the biggest distractions of them all. From co-workers and clients to office politics and your buzzing smartphone, it's easy to see why we often have a difficult time focusing while on the job.

Jen Lawrence is a former investment banker and Big Four consultant who now helps companies develop a thinking culture and improve employee engagement. She is the author of Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team and writes about women and career management for The Huffington Post. Here's Jen's advice on avoiding distractions in the workplace:

1) Create a realistic To-Do list.

Twelve page To-Do lists are demotivating. Each day, compile a small list of things that you are able to accomplish in a day, then hold yourself accountable. If you know that you must check off specific items on your list, you are more likely to stay on task.

2) Turn off your technology.

With the release of the smart watch, we are literally wearing potential distractions. Make sure that you turn off email, texts, and phone-notifications on all your devices when you are trying to concentrate so that you are not interrupted.

3) Think 40:15:5.

You'll find yourself powering through your work if you can grab some dedicated work time. Arrange your meetings so that you can build in a few one-hour blocks of focused work time into your day. For the first 40 minutes of the hour, work on a project for 40 minutes without interruption. Then take 15 minutes to check your devices for messages. Finally, take a five minute recovery break: go for a little walk, stretch or talk briefly with a co-worker as a reward for your concentration.

4) Be obviously unavailable.

When you are working, tell people that you do not want to be interrupted. If you have an office, close your door or see if you can work in a meeting room. If you are in an open environment, wearing headphones is a good way to let people know that you are not available.

5) Schedule office hours.

Have a time each day when people can get hold of you. People are more likely to hold their requests if they know when you are available. I hold office hours every Thursday for literally anyone in the world who wants to meet with me. (Booked through May but check out http://ScheduleDave.com)

These are an expert's recommendations for avoiding distractions in the workplace. Now it's your turn. How do you avoid distraction in the office? Tell me in the comments section below.

Published on: Mar 26, 2015