7 Ways to Overcome Distraction and Do What Matters
47% of the time you aren’t focused on what you’re doing.*
You give yourself to trivialities when distraction governs your day.
7 ways to overcome distraction:
#1. Establish “no respond” hours in your office.
You can’t do important work and respond immediately to email and text. In other words, expecting immediate responses trains people to spend time on trivialities and urgencies.
#2. Use the stuffed dragon method.
Give everyone in your office a stuffed dragon. Put the dragon on your desk or in front of your door when you’re doing priority work.
You invite interruption when you leave your door open. Give everyone permission to carve out uninterrupted work time.
#3. Turn off notifications.
#4. Keep a notebook on your desk.
Don’t chase random thoughts, record them.
#5. Stop making everything a priority.
Any boss who believes everything is a priority has a team that can’t focus.
Deadlines often establish priorities. All assignments need a deadline. The next time you assign a task, discuss and establish a deadline.
#6. Discuss commitments.
Over-commitment is distraction.
Don’t make new commitments without discussing your current commitment-load.
“I have these five commitments. Where would you like me to place this new commitment?”
#7. Schedule a five-minute buffer.
Schedule five minutes between meetings. Take a breath, a short-walk, or just put your feet up.
One person closes their door and turns the lights off in their office for a few minutes.
You will get more done if you don’t run from one task to the next.
Bonus: Discuss the difference between urgent and important.
Others control your time when you rush from one urgency to the next.
Try dedicating 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to an important task.
Leaders that chase urgencies neglect priorities.
What distracts leaders?
How might leaders overcome distraction?
*How to Focus a Wandering Mind – Berkley
The Most Important thing You Manage Isn’t Projects or People
Deep Work, by Cal Newport – Book
The Law of Distraction for Leaders – CEO Magazine
The Dangers of Distraction – HBR
So true, when you are in the client business everyone is a paycheck, prioritizing the squeaky wheel is a challenge for sure. Learning to justify an emergency send all ones resource can be taxing as everyone thinks they should be first.
The reality of everything we do is the experience, with just a few key questions of the clients can help in determining a priority, for us it has been learning to ask the right questions to get the correct priority.
Training our minds to know how to deal with the “Squeaky wheels” gets one past the distractions in a sequential sense and empowers us to move forward in a orderly fashion.
What distracts leaders? Lack of focus
How might leaders overcome distraction? Learn to focus and organize around your skill set, your style and your timing needs. Delegate outward to those that can do the work and support them.
I would add the 4 Disciplines of Execution to the reading list. Just finished it and it is very practical.
Thanks for this today! I needed it!
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Distractions and interruptions are all too common working in a clinical setting. There are constant questions from staff about orders, phone calls, refill requests, and the occasional emergency. The inability to sometimes have five minutes to think, breathe, or relax from these constant disruptions has led many to seeking refuge in the only place free from interruption, the bathroom. However, no one really wants their five-minute mental buffer to take place next to a sink and toilet, which only emphasizes the importance of establishing boundaries when the door cannot every be truly closed.
It is imperative in clinical practice that the staff feel comfortable openly communicating questions and concerns in real time. If they are not, mistakes can be made. For instance, fear of asking a doctor to repeat the dose and quantity of a medication ordered, may result in inappropriate dispensing of drugs. However, constant, non-urgent distractions can also lead medical professionals to making errors as their attention is taken away from the task at hand. There is a delicate balance to be met in these situations.
In this setting, the answer to reducing distractions is unfortunately not as easy as closing doors, turning off notifications, and scheduling buffer breaks. Alternative methods need to be used to communicate non-urgent messages in order to reduce interruptions and distractions. This does require training staff on what information is “distraction-worthy” and what is not. For example, utilizing a message board for each staff member allows for non-urgent items, such as routine refill medication requests, to be addressed when that individual has free time and can focus on those tasks. Another possibility is prompting staff to ask “I have a non-urgent question, is now an ok time to ask?”. This approach can lead to less distraction, but to not only makes the other staff member aware of a need, but allows them to redirect the issue to be addressed a more appropriate time. Constant distractions can be detrimental to mental focus throughout the day. Finding creative solutions within various workplace environments can not only help workflow, but may also help to reduce oversights and mistakes.