You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one. – Tom Kite

We live in a very distracted generation. Blame it on the internet, on the “instant” mentality, or due to any other cause, but it seems as if the millennial generation has developed ADHD. One moment you’re typing reports, filling those excel sheets, then… look! Another Cat meme!
It goes without saying that in order to maximize productivity, distractions around the office must be removed, or at least minimized. In no particular order, here are some of the most compelling distractions around the office and how to address them.

  • Facebook

Facebook. This infinitely useful social media tool deserves its own category, because it has changed the way we work and communicate forever. (Yahoo Messenger? Yahoo Groups? What are those?)
So, Facebook. Should it be blocked in the office or not? Answer: It depends on your line of work.

Forbes.com writes: “…There are also the productivity bonuses associated with the ability to safely use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to meet corporate business objectives in areas like marketing, customer service and sales. Enterprise executives are not just enduring this evolution in communication, but many are embracing and proactively seeking ways to use these social applications to form connections with their customers and their employees.” – Social media in the office, Two Truths and a Lie

Block-only policies would only paint the employer as a restrictive and uptight boss; not to mention that it isn’t completely foolproof since employees can access these by using mobile data on their phones anyway.
Another key here is to also be realistic. After all, the popularity of Facebook is mainly due to its service and utility. FB groups are really useful for posting group updates, uploading files, and the like. Blocking social media for the sake of avoiding distractions will mean that the office also loses important functionalities in the process. Therefore, tip for the management: Be realistic, and assess if allowing social media would integrate value in your line of work.

Alternatives: Google Groups, Dropbox, Asana

  • General Internet Use

It goes without saying that for general internet use, restrictions should definitely be in order. Porn, Torrent sites, 9gag, Thought Catalog and other time wasters should be blacklisted so that they can’t be accessed by the office Internet connection. Killjoy? Maybe. But the office will benefit in productivity in the long run.

Another step is to install monitoring software on each office computer. Take note however, that no one likes being spied on. At best, the computer monitoring software should just be taking snapshots of the employee’s computer at periodic intervals to check if he is really doing work. It should not be a keylogger of any sort, where the management gains access to all their passwords or breaches their privacy in any way. The bottom line is that internet use should be controlled because it serves as a major distraction in the office.

Alternatives: Firewall, Monitoring Software such as ActivTrak

  • Chatty/ Talkative employees

Humans are social beings; psychology has proven this to be true. But for life in the office, this is especially problematic if what your employees do all day is tambay and chitchat rather than get actual work done.
There could be many root causes for this, such as lack of assigned work, problems with co-workers or bosses, or maybe it could be indicative of a deeper psychological issue. If it is seriously interfering with office productivity, enlist the help of the HR so that the problem may be addressed accordingly.
Also, check out Chron.com’s concise article on How to Deal with Chatty Employees.

  • Office and Work desk Clutter

A cluttered desk equals a distracted and unproductive mind. Don’t believe us? Read these statistics from an article by Reliableplant.com:
“According to the National Association of Professional Organizations, paper clutter is the No. 1 problem for most businesses. Studies show the average person wastes 4.3 hours per week searching for papers, which adds stress and frustration to the workplace while reducing concentration and creative thinking. The average executive loses one hour of productivity per day searching for missing information. And, according to the Small Business Administration, the biggest burden for small business is the inability to properly service customers, increase sales and improve the bottom line because of mishandled paperwork.”

Aside from paper clutter, office desks are usually filled with all sorts of junk such as stuffed toys, miniature figurines, or various souvenirs. Ask yourself, do you really need those 8 framed pictures of you and your boyfriend for inspiration? Perhaps one will do? Keeping a minimalist and organized work desk will increase productivity because it forces you to focus your attention on the task at hand. By doing so, it increases your productivity, efficiency, and more importantly, the company’s capability of delivering results.

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