You CAN Control Your Distractions!
How often do you start a project only to be pulled away by people needing your attention? Or, you are in the middle of a task and the phone rings? Or, one minute you are researching a new sales technique on the computer – and the next you are looking online at the latest fashions for spring? Anything that pulls you from the task at hand is a distraction.
It is possible to reduce distractions. Really – it is! I recommend following a 3 Step System:
Step 1 – Awareness, Step 2 – Work, and Step 3 – Evaluation
AWARENESS: To fix a challenge, we must be able to identify what the challenge is. Start today to build awareness around what distracts you. One way is to set a timer for 30 minute intervals. Once the timer goes off, ask yourself, “Am I doing what I need to be doing?” If not, identify what pulled you from your task. Most likely, a distraction diverted your focus. Continue to identify your distractions for a few days.
WORK: Now that you have identified possible interruptions, create some structures to help reduce these diversions. I’ve listed three strategies below. I’ll recommend additional techniques in a later post:
- Is email a distraction? Disable all email notifications from your phone. Keep the email program closed on your computer when working. (Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the “ding” of incoming mail!) Then, set specific times throughout the day to respond to your email.
- Are specific websites a distraction? Use www.KeepMeOut.com to block specific url’s during the day. This allows you to keep yourself off of sites you know pull your time and attention away from the assignment at hand.
- Do people pull you off task? Create office hours where you turn off your cell phone and close your office door. This allows you to only focus on your priorities. Even if you are only able to block 45 minutes – imagine what you can accomplish in 45 minutes of uninterrupted time!
EVALUATION: The last step is to evaluate your effectiveness at reducing your distractions. Which distractions still exist? Which ones are happening less frequently? Which distractions have you still been unable to get a handle on? By understanding what is and is not effective you can accurately create a plan to move forward. I’d love to hear about your successes and challenges. Please post below!
I encourage you to start knocking these distractions off one by one, it’s important to be able to focus on your priorities, distraction-free so you can enjoy your down time!
(Image by jesadaphorn)