I was recently reading a book by T.J. Addington entitled “Deep Influence” (Navpress ©2014). There are a number of themes in this book that I resonate with, but once again, the idea of distractions jumped off the pages as this is something I constantly work to manage.
Addington talks about this as he talks about leading with intentionality. Lot’s of great ideas and tips, and I encourage you to read the book.
I want to detour and focus on this idea of “Distraction Management”.
Here I am, looking at the screen, trying to write this blog post, and I’m checking my email, I’m waiting for a phone call, and I’m moving 3 different piles of paper on my desk all at the same time. I’m not managing my distraction very well, and the reality is, if I focused on one task, I would complete it faster, then I could move on to the next, but sometimes I get so caught up in trying to multi-task that I get to the end of the day, and I leave 5 or 6 projects undone because I got distracted and didn’t get it down.
While I haven’t perfected the art of “Distraction Management”, I have learned some things. I’ve shared them with you from time to time, but if you’re like me, you’re quick to forget… because you get distracted!
Here are some things that help me with this:
#1) BLOCK SCHEDULE MY TIME
I try to schedule the week ahead of me, making appointments with myself to focus on specific tasks and blocking time to work on priority projects. Don’t feel bad about doing this. You’re simply choosing to do what’s most important and communicating to people that you’re “booked” or that you “have an appointment”.
#2) ENGAGE FULLY WHENEVER I CAN
When I try to check my messages, track the weather, send texts to my kids and listen to a conversation at the same time, I miss out on something! Engage fully wherever you are. You’ll take more away and people will feel more valued by you.
#3) SAY NO!
You don’t have to do everything. Figure out what is most important, and if you can control your time and decisions, learn to say no. You can’t do everything.
#4) FIND YOUR SPACE
Figure out where you work best. Some people like to work in a coffee shop or in a noisy place. Others need complete silence or a comfortable place. Figure out what works best for you and get there when it’s time to do your most important work. For me, I am most productive when I’m in my office, at my desk, with all the resources I have around me and accessible. I know I work better, faster and I’m less distracted in this “happy place” I’ve created, far from the distractions that tempt me to do something else. Where do you work best?
#5) TAKE A BREAK
I find that if I take regular breaks, I can work longer. I need to move, I need to refocus, I need to respond to urgent messages. Sometimes just taking a 10-minute walk around the block re-energizes me for another 90 minutes. Take a break when you can. I’ve found that many short breaks work best for me and keeps me fresh.
Learn to manage the distractions in your life, your work and your space!
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