Three modern distractions in the workplace (and solutions)

We’d all be more productive every day if it weren’t for distractions. No matter what we have planned for the workday, distractions seem to sneak up on us anywhere and everywhere. Our increasingly-digital and connected world only opens doors for further distractions, making every day a battle to get any work done at all. Here’s a quick look at three of the biggest modern distractions, and some tips on combating them to help you and your staff.

1. Smartphones

One of the greatest inventions of the twenty-first century, the smartphone has essentially become a staple of modern life. We take our phones everywhere, and they provide excellent tools for daily activities, even increasing productivity with the right applications and workflow methods.

However, as great as smartphones can be, they are often one of the biggest distractions in the workplace. Constantly connected to everyone and everything, it’s easy to slip into ridiculous time-devouring spirals that burn up the entire workday. Responding to messages from friends and family, checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media, reading articles, watching videos… the distractions created by smartphones are simply innumerable.

Thankfully, with a little commitment, it isn’t extremely difficult to eliminate smartphone distractions during the workday. Turning off your phone and placing it in your desk drawer or other secure location while you’re working is the easiest and most effective way to rid yourself of potential “smart” distractions. Provide friends and family with another number to reach you on in case of any emergency. It’ll take some work and dedication from everyone in the office, but you’re sure to see an improvement in everyone’s productivity by simply ridding smartphones during the workday.

If you must have your smartphone on and available during the workday, or if you use it to complete your tasks, turning it off might not be a viable option. However, many smartphones offer settings to block certain notifications during certain hours (blocking notifications from Facebook from 9am until 5pm, for instance). Alternatively, why don’t you hold a competition to see how long people can go without checking their social media accounts for example?

2. Clutter and Disorganisation

Another major distraction is a cluttered and disorganised workplace. Having a desk littered with papers and supplies makes it difficult to find the things we need when we need them and impossible to focus on the task at hand. Looking for one thing leaves a more scattered mess when we’re through; then we’ve got to straighten up the new mess before getting back to work; then we find something else that we were supposed to work on and forget about the original task altogether. Clutter and disorganisation is one of the top distractions in the workplace, but with a little elbow grease it’s rather simple to eliminate.

There is no one-size-fits-all key to proper and efficient organisation. Everyone has different preferences regarding how they’d like things to be stored, and every workplace is different in the space and resources in provides. No matter where you work, spend some time as a team de-cluttering the place you spend the most time during the workday. Find an organisation solution that fits everyone’s specific needs and workflow, and be sure to maintain the organisation habits to prevent more clutter from accumulating.

3. Multitasking

For some, multitasking is a great way to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time. For others, however, attempts at multitasking only result in distractions and wasted time. Trying to do too many things at one time bogs us down and makes it difficult to accomplish even a single task.

To eliminate distractions caused by multitasking, work to prioritise your workday each day before you start. Determine what absolutely must be finished and what other tasks can be worked on later or in briefer moments throughout the day. After establishing your priorities, plan a daily schedule to get everything done and make the most of your time. Don’t do several things at once; pay attention to a single task until it is complete, then move on to your next objective.

Knowing what needs to be done and when you’re going to do it helps prevent biting off more than you can chew and getting buried under your workload. It creates more focus on the things that must be done and blocks out distractions created by less-pressing tasks of the day. Also, leading by example will help your staff to do the same.

Allot times throughout the day to do things you know are potential distraction-creators. For example, checking your email is necessary for most people at some point during the workday; however, when you’re bombarded with emails it’s easy to forget about other tasks and spend the entire day replying to emails rather than getting any work done. Set aside a few minutes to complete these tasks, and then stick to your daily plan to ensure the necessary work gets done on time.

A good way to plan your day and avoid time-sucking distractions is to place the highest-priority tasks first on your list. Take care of the biggest objectives at the beginning of your workday, when you’re still focused and awake, rather than later in the day when you’re more easily distracted.

Modern workplace distractions seem ever-present, but with a bit of dedication from everyone they’re easily eliminated. Put down the phones, declutter the work space, and prioritise your day to see an exponential boost in everyone’s productivity!

The views, opinions and positions expressed within the British Gas Business Blog are those of the author alone and do not represent those of British Gas. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this blog are not guaranteed. British Gas accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright in the content within the British Gas Business Blog belongs to the authors of such content and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. For more information about the mix of fuels used to generate our electricity simply visit You can find information about how to make a complaint at