Top distractions at work killing productivity in 2023: Statistics

From push notifications on your phone to noisy coworkers and infinite scrolls on TikTok and Instagram, workplace distractions are everywhere and affect most Americans, limiting efficient workflows, preventing our ability to process information, and negatively affecting our productivity and focus.

An average of 6 hours and 33 minutes are lost weekly in the U.S. due to distractions. This equates to more than 26 hours per month in lost productivity.

And thanks to technology and social media, the obstacles that get in the way of productivity at work are seemingly endless.

To learn more, Workamajig surveyed over 1,600 U.S. employees across various industries to discover the most common productivity killers in the workplace and how much time is lost due to distractions while on the clock.

Besides revealing the most common distractions that cost businesses money, the study looked at how distractions impact productivity, the most distracted cities and how distractions vary per region, top distractions when working from home, and tips for maximizing productivity and managing distractions at work.

How distractions impact productivity: The cost of workplace distractions

According to a University of California study, we only spend an average of 12 minutes on a task before we're interrupted.1 And the same study found that after each interruption, it takes over 23 minutes to refocus, proving that recognizing our biggest workplace distractions is key to maximizing productivity.2

Our research shows that nearly 90% of U.S. workers get distracted at least once daily, and almost 1 in 4 are interrupted more than six times per workday.

Workplace distractions lead to productivity loss and can compromise the quality of work, impact coworkers who need to pick up the slack, and even cause profit loss for companies.

But how much time exactly is lost due to workplace distractions?

On average, U.S. workers lose 1 hour and 18 minutes daily due to distractions, resulting in nearly 340 hours of productivity lost each year.

Moreover, research indicates that workplace distractions cost U.S. businesses an estimated $650 billion annually.3

Evidence also shows that productivity will likely be impacted after a task switch or interruption, and our work and responses are more likely to contain errors.4 Similarly, each interruption contributes to higher feelings of time pressure, prompting those interrupted to work faster to compensate, experiencing significantly more stress as a result.2

Our study shows that 63% of respondents need around 10 minutes to regain focus after a distraction. In comparison, 21% and 11% require up to 30 minutes and 1 hour to get back on track. This means that, at minimum, workers are losing nearly an hour a week to refocus after an interruption.

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How distractions at work affect different generations

When looking at how distractions impact productivity by generation, our study found that Gen X and Baby Boomers are twice as likely to be distracted at work than Gen Zers and millennials. In contrast, younger generations are twice as likely to check their phones and watch streaming services while working than older generations.

Our research also found that workplace distractions do not differ significantly between genders. However, when working from home, women are more likely to be distracted by household chores and pets, while men are more likely to be distracted by family members, guests, and unexpected visitors.

To pinpoint what's distracting U.S. workers, we asked employees from different industries nationwide to share their thoughts.

So, what are the top distractions impacting productivity at work?


Top workplace distractions impacting
productivity in 2023


Our research shows that 1 in 2 working Americans consider chatty coworkers their main distraction in the office. Although coworkers can be a great source of support and collaboration, having office neighbors stopping by your desk to talk can make it hard to stay focused and productive. This is particularly true in open-plan offices.

Other office -related distractions impacting productivity and leading to employee frustration include excessive office noise (25%), office gossip (17%), and background noise (15%) like music or podcasts.

It's also known that technology can be another major productivity killer. Notably, 90% of U.S. workers admit to using their cell phones for personal use while on the clock, with nearly 1 hour and a half of potential work wasted daily due to smartphone usage.

Shockingly, nearly 15% of workers admit to losing from 3 to 5 hours 5 of daily work checking their phone notifications and social media feeds, and close to 30% admitted to spending 2 to 3 hours browsing on the Internet for non-work related activities.

But technology isn't the only thing derailing our focus at work. Interestingly, 12% of employees listed multitasking as their top productivity killer. This is backed by data, as studies have shown that working on several tasks simultaneously is cognitively impossible for the brain and can make you less focused and morelikely to fail.5

Notably, nearly 10% of workers consider meetings and emails their top distraction at work, proving that aside from taking up a large portion of your workday, these can sometimes make it harder to get back into the flow of work. Similarly, nearly 9% of employees revealed they are often sidetracked by instant messaging notifications from Slack, Google Chat, and Microsoft Teams.

Other factors interrupting employees' workflow include boredom (10%), personal problems (9%), feeling overwhelmed by changes in the workplace (7%), smoke breaks (7%), snack breaks (5%), and fire alarms (2%).


Top work-from-home distractions affecting productivity in 2023

Remote work comes with a whole set of new distractions. The main distraction culprits for at -home employees include chores at home (21%), partners, kids, and family members (17%), guests and unexpected visitors (16%), and dogs, cats, and other pets (12%).

Other distractions affecting those working from home include noisy neighbors (14%), streaming services (11%), and mailman and package deliveries (7%).

Nearly 2% of workers admitted to watching adult entertainment while on the clock, leading to decreased productivity. Others admitted to being distracted by spam risk calls, guns, the weather, or birds flying through the window.

Kimberley Fulwood, Founder, CEO, Chief Strategist, KF Strategies, and Workamajig expert, addresses work-from-home distractions and shares her tips to minimize interruptions:

"After 13 years of remote work experience, I've found that distractions often stem from a desire to avoid challenging or mundane tasks, leading to impromptu home activities like reorganizing the pantry or tidying up.

However, maintaining discipline is crucial for remote success. It involves structuring your day, perhaps even preparing in advance by packing kids' lunches and adhering to a routine that suits your productivity style. Furthermore, leaders in organizations endorsing remote or hybrid work must set the example by staying engaged with their teams, promoting accountability, and nurturing trust within the team to ensure the success of remote work arrangements."

How pop culture moments, holidays, and major events impact productivity

Breaking news, pop culture events, and holidays can majorly impact your work day. Whether you end up obsessively reading every article about an event or end up down a TikTok rabbit hole, pop culture news can grab your attention and keep it when you least expect it.

Several distracting events happened this past year, resulting in thousands of articles, social media posts, and conversations. 14% of our respondents identified the blockbuster Barbie movie as the top distraction of 2023, followed by 10.8% who were distracted by Beyonce's Renaissance World Tour. When it came to sports, the two top distractions were the NBA Finals and Super Bowl LVII - both having nearly 10% of respondents identifying the sports games as a major distraction. Fortunately, it seems none of these distractions impacted their work day too much 55% of respondents said these events impacted productivity by 30 minutes or less, and 14% said only one to two hours were lost to these events.

In addition to pop culture moments, the holidays and seasonal changes also impact productivity. Overall, across the board, all respondents identified Christmas and the holiday season as the most distracting time of the year. For certain respondents, some events were just as distracting:

  • All male respondents found Halloween the second most distracting holiday after Christmas.
  • Gen Z female respondents (18-24) also found Halloween the second most distracting holiday after Christmas.
  • Gen Z males (age 18-24) remarked that the yearly Apple Event was just as distracting as the holiday season.
  • For respondents over the age of 54+, they found New Year's Day and Christmas both equally distracting holidays.


When it comes to shopping for the best deals, 12.8% of respondents thought Black Friday was more distracting, followed by 9.8% who were more distracted by Amazon Prime Day.


How entertainment impacts productivity: The most distracting TV shows & musical artists in 2023

According to a recent study", more than half of employees watch television shows during work hours - naturally, this is higher for remote workers at 53%, while nearly half of onsite workers admit to tuning in too. While nearly 49% of our respondents didn't own up to watching TV on the job, 14.7% of respondents said they streamed show: for no more than 30 minutes during the workday. Shockingly, nearly 9% of respondents said they watched 5 hours or more of TV during their work hours.

Comfort TV Shows
2023 TV Shows


The results also vary per generation, with 70% of Gen Zers admitting to watching streaming services at work compared to 27% of boomers.

But what TV shows were the most distracting this year? According to our survey, 14.7% identified HBO's The Last of Us as the most distracting TV show of 2023, followed by Hulu's The Bear at 10.7%. When it came to reality TV, The Kardashians was selected as the most distracting show by 9.8% of respondents. And for those that simply like to have an old favorite on in the background while they work, The Office (14.7%) and Law & Order (9.8%) were the two most popular "comfort shows" of 2023.

Streaming services and television aren't the only distracting forms of entertainment these days. While 34% of respondents said they don't listen to music while they work, others recognized the specific artists whose music were the most diverting:

  • Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift have the most distracting songs of 2023 as a combined 28% of respondents noted.
  • Gen Z agrees Taylor Swift has the most distracting music of 2023, followed by Nicki Minaj.
  • Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Harry Styles, and Ice Spice were also identified as the top most distracting artists of 2023.
  • 64% of Boomers/Gen X (age 54+) noted they do not listen to music while they work.

When it comes to music, there is a sweet spot between productive and distracting. Studies have shown that certain types of music are more effective than others when it comes to enhancing creativity and productivity. Up-tempo music with a strong beat (around 50-80 beats per minute) can help to increase our heart rate and breathing, which can lead to increased alertness and energy levels. This is ideal for tasks that require focus and concentration. For tasks that require more creative thinking, slower-paced, relaxing music, such as classical, can be more effective. This type of music helps slow our heart rate and breathing, allowing us to think more creatively.

Learn more about how music impacts productivity here.

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Miley Cyrus
Lady Gaga
Ice Spice
Nicky Minaj
Harry Styles
Ed Sheeran
Taylor Swift
The Weekend
Doja Cat
Ariana Grande

Top 20 most distracted cities in the U.S

When it comes to workplace distractions, Americans agree that most interruptions come from talkative coworkers, but this isn't the only thing drawing attention away from work. With this in mind, we identified how work distractions vary across the country.

Workers in Houston, Tampa, and New Orleans are among the most distracted in the country, experiencing an average of 6 interruptions per workday, with some losing up to two to three hours of daily work. In contrast, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Washington are the least distracted, with employees in those regions saying they rarely lose focus while working.


As expected, 90% of the cities analyzed revealed chatty workers as their top office distraction. This is the case for Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, and Miami, among other metropolitan areas and creative cities with ample social culture and where coworkers are more likely to engage in casual conversation.

New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Austin all listed office noise as their main distraction at work. This is not surprising, as many of these cities are major tech hubs hosting some of the biggest tech companies in the world, such as Meta or Google, with some welcoming up to 2,000 employees per office.

Other notable distractions across the country include:

  • 'Boredom' a top distraction in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
  • 'Smoke breaks' and 'personal problems' - a top distraction in Baltimore.
  • 'Feeling overwhelmed' - a top distraction in Cleveland.
  • 'Fire alarms' - a top distraction in New York and New Orleans.

How work-from-home distractions vary across the country

Chores at home were revealed as the country's biggest distraction for remote workers in 2023. This is the case for San Antonio, Tampa, Minneapolis, Orlando, and Las Vegas.

Other notable work-from-home distractions across the country include:

  • 'Dogs, cats, and other pets' - a top distraction in Houston, Charlotte, and Columbus.
  • 'Streaming services' - a top distraction in Philadelphia and Brooklyn.
  • 'Noisy neighbors' - a top distraction in Phoenix, Detroit, Queens, Cleveland, and San Diego.
  • 'Mailman and package deliveries' - a top distraction in Miami.
  • 'Weather' - a top distraction in Oklahoma City.
  • 'Clutter'- a top distraction in Las Vegas.
  • 'Bird flying through the window' - a top distraction in Birmingham.


New Orleans and Pittsburgh were the only cities to admit 'adult entertainment' as a main distraction when working from home.


How holidays and pop culture events impact workers across the country

When it comes to holidays, most cities consider Christmas the most distracting holiday of the year.

Other notable holidays distracting workers across the country include:

  • Thanksgiving - a top distraction in Atlanta, Brooklyn, and Oklahoma City.
  • Halloween - a top distraction in Houston, Boston, and Mesquite.

Looking at pop culture news and events, most cities ranked the 'Barbie' movie release and Taylor Swift's concert as the main distracting event of the year. Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Chicago, and Cincinnati workers were mostly distracted by sports events, particularly the NBA finals, Super Bowl, and the US Open.

Other notable events distracting workers across the country include:

  • Beyoncé's Renaissance World Tour - a top distraction in New Orleans, San Diego, and Baltimore.
  • The 'Titanic' submersible implosion a top distraction in Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Queens. and San Jose.
  • The 'Idaho murders' - a top distraction in San Francisco.
  • The 'Sandoval' - a top distraction in Cleveland and Raleigh.

How Workplace Distractions Impact Marketers

When looking at specific industries, like marketing, our study found that 93% of marketers get distracted at least once a day, and nearly half get distracted more than 6 times daily.

Interestingly, the most common distractions for marketers are work-related tools and activities, including instant messaging notifications (44.3%), emails (38.6%), multitasking (38%), and meetings (32.9%).

These distractions can have a significant a impact on productivity. Our study shows that 1 in 3 marketers lose 1 hour of daily work due to distractions. This equates to 260 hours of productivity lost each year. Similarly, 30% of marketers lose 2 hours due to work-related distractions, or 520 hours yearly.

The study also found that 70% of marketers need 10 minutes to regain focus after a distraction. In comparison, nearly 30% need up to 30 minutes to refocus, suggesting that even a brief distraction can have a long-lasting impact on productivity.

The impact of distractions on marketing performance is clear. Distracted marketers are less likely to meet deadlines, produce high-quality work, and develop creative ideas. They are also more likely to make mistakes.

How To Minimize Distractions: Tips For Boosting Productivity

With all this talk about wasted time and productivity, we're probably all feeling a bit distracted. So, how do you get your head back in the game and focused once you've lost your way?

Here are our top tips for getting back on track and having a productive day: Take a breath, close your eyes, and recenter yourself.

  • Manage notifications to reduce distractions. You can't always stop colleagues from interrupting your work. But you can control how notifications, pop-ups, and other digital distractions affect you. Switch Slack and email notifications off by going into 'Do Not Disturb' mode when working on critical tasks.
  • Hype yourself up with some music. Some people enjoy classical music to calm and focus, while others enjoy genres like EDM to get their adrenaline pumping. You can learn more about the types of music that help increase creativity and productivity here.
  • Take scheduled breaks. A study published in the journal Cognition found that brief diversions can "vastly improve" cognition. Another study concluded that the optimal work-break time was 52 minutes of work, followed by a 17-minute break. Use a customized Pomodoro timer to manage your work and breaks.7 8
  • Take a peek at your to-do list and start with something you can cross off quickly, then work your way onto the bigger, more daunting tasks. By the time you get there, you'll feel so accomplished nothing will stand in your way.
  • Resist the urge to multitask. Try to cross one thing off your to-do list at a time.


Esther Cohen, Director of Marketing at Workamajig, explains the impact multitasking can have on productivity:

"There is overwhelming evidence to show that multitasking is a myth. Despite its dominance in our cultural discourse, scientific studies show that the brain is incapable of doing two things simultaneously. Switching from one task to another causes the brain to rearrange its priorities. The end result is a 'task-switching penalty' as the brain adjusts to the new task. If you do this over and over again, you essentially tax your brain under a massive cognitive load. This affects your productivity negatively. The prescription for this problem is simple: stop multitasking. Instead, adopt the practice of 'single- tasking' - devote your complete attention to a single task."


All these productivity hacks can help you manage distractions and work better and faster. However, a robust project management system can help you and your business keep track of everything. Whether you're a small agency or a large corporation managing an internal creative team, you can benefit from Workamajig's creative-friendly project management features. Click here to request a demo today.
If interested, you can find more tips and learn more about the psychology behind productivity here.



Workamajig surveyed over 1,600 U.S. workers from different industries nationwide to learn insights about and identify the top distractions at work. The study also ranked the most distracted U.S. cities, looking at regions where workers admitted to getting distracted more than three times daily. The study also identified the most distracting TV shows, music artists, and pop culture events in 2023. Data is correct as of September 28, 2023.



  1. University of California - The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress
  2. Idea to value - It takes 23 minutes to regain focus after a distraction: Task Switching
  3. Business News Daily - Distracted Workers Are Costing You Money
  4. Trends in Cognitive Science
  5. Workamajig - The Psychology of Productivity: How to Work Better, Longer, Faster
  6. Human Resources Director - Netflix and chill? Why watching TV at work can help productivity
  7. The Atlantic - A Formula for Perfect Productivity: Work for 52 Minutes, Break for 17
  8. ScienceDaily - Brief diversions vastly improve focus, researchers find