The two biggest work challenges most of us have today is lack of clarity and lack of focus, which is why we’re able to get distracted so easily.
With so many opportunities today to get distracted, the new “ability to focus” now is distraction removal. The reality is we’ll continue to have more and more opportunities to get distracted as new technology, applications and devices are introduced.
It’s becoming extremely important for anyone who wants to be highly productive and effective to remove all their distractions.
If we’re not able to manage our work day by removing distractions, we will:
- Take much longer to complete our tasks or projects.
- Work a lot longer than we’d like.
- Not have as much free time to do things other than work.
- Get annoyed or frustrated with ourselves for getting distracted.
- Waste time on unproductive things.
The more we can remove distractions, the more clarity and focus we will have.
I recently launched a new book, Ignite Your Leadership, and leading up to the book launch, my colleagues and I created an online summit to help generate more publicity for our book. Those were two major projects to focus on.
In order to get those two projects completed on time, all of my other projects had to be put on hold so that I could fully focus on the summit and book launch. By making the decision to clear out everything else I had been working on, it was a lot easier to stay focused and get tasks completed on time.
The good news was both the summit and the book launch were very successful, and my colleagues and I were able to achieve our goal of making our book an international best-seller. Since I only had two projects to focus on, it was a lot easier to not get distracted.
Here are five simple things we can do each day to ensure we give ourselves the best chance of removing distractions and focus on what matters most.
- Turn off all your notifications. These include email notifications, instant messages and alerts. Our attention span is getting shorter and shorter, so it’s now even more important that we do all we can to eliminate things that can take our focus away from what we want to do. Even a short two- or three-minute distraction can result in 20 to 30 minutes of lost productivity. If we have a few of these daily, they all add up to significant amounts of time.
- Set appointments in your calendar with yourself. Having a calendar of scheduled activities gives us a plan for each day, which is a lot better than not having a plan. We should always consider our tasks as meetings we’re having with ourselves. Just think of a normal meeting in a work environment — while we’re in a meeting, all we can do is focus on that meeting. Treating tasks we have to do as appointments is a very effective way to stay focused.
- Have specific times set for specific activities. This is about better calendar management. Scheduling same tasks together, also known as batching, can reduce unnecessary time wasted. For example, we can set an appointment daily for when we will check and respond to emails, check and respond to phone messages, or we can even have specific times we make ourselves available for meetings with others.
- Communicate with team members when you can be contacted. This is critically important especially if we have team members who need direction or instructions from us. Setting the expectation that we are not to be interrupted with questions, unless there’s an emergency, will give us the space to stay focused on our most important priorities.
- Maintain a high level of discipline. The truth is we get distracted most times because we shift our focus to low value activities, like checking our notifications on our devices or scrolling though different social media platforms because something caught our attention. We often are our biggest distractions and the more discipline we can develop, the greater the chances we won’t get tempted by things that are not important.
Today, one of the most easiest ways to stand out from others is to get better at removing distractions. It’s highly likely that others who are doing similar work to us, are getting pulled in by things going on around them that may be of little or no importance at all. If we can remove distractions, we will have a much higher level of performance and effectiveness over the long run.
Question: What is another simple thing we can do to prevent distractions during our work day?
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