One of my favorite distraction busting techniques is to “park” ideas as they pop into your head.  Then, once you finish the task at hand, go back to the ideas in your parking lot and decide what to do with them.  From a time management and choice management stand point, this is a much for effective use of your time than switching tasks each time a new idea pops into your head.

However, this strategy doesn’t always work!

Dear Lisa,

I love the parking lot idea!  Truly I do!  I use it all the time when I’m working on the computer.  HOWEVER, I find that I still get distracted by PEOPLE needing my help.  Let’s be realistic – as much as I’d like to “put them in the parking lot” I just CAN’T!  Any suggestions?

Your Easily Distracted Client

JoAnn

 

JoAnn is correct.  It just isn’t as socially acceptable to “put” people in the parking lot!

It’s OK to “park” the ideas and thoughts flying around in our own head – but not necessarily people.  Don’t get me wrong – you may be able to “park” them by simply stating, “I’m working on a project right now – can I get back to you in an hour.”  But even that strategy won’t work with everyone!

JoAnn,

First, congrats on using the parking lot to reduce the distractions in your own head!  Bravo on that progress!  Now – about people!  You are correct – sometimes  you just can’t “park” them – as much as you would like.  My suggestion for this instance is to use “next steps”.

In the situations where you need to respond / react to the person immediately, jot down your next step with the project you are currently working on.  For example

  • If you are in the middle of making customer services calls, write down the name of the next person you need to call.
  • If you are responding to an email, quickly write a word or two about the next thought you want to convey.
  • If you are creating a new sales script, outline the bullet points you have floating around in your head.

After capturing your next steps – you are mentally free to give the person your full attention and then return seamlessly to your original task.

By creating “next steps” you won’t need to wonder “where was I” when you return to the task at hand.  You will be able to immediately pick up where you left off.
Best of luck implementing “next steps”.  It’s not as great as “parking ” people, but sometimes you just need to bow to social convention!

Lisa

What are your most common distractions?  How do you deal with them?  Have you tried the parking lot or next steps?  Tell me about your experience.

If you are looking for additional distraction busting techniques – I invite you to attend this month’s teleseminar

Eliminate Distractions in 3 Easy Steps – Even When the Weather is Nice

This call will be recorded, so even if you can’t attend live be sure to register!

 Main photo courtesy of  iosphere/  freedigitalphotos.net