Distraction: Defeating the Beast that Contaminates Leadership and Dilutes Effectiveness

The seduction of distraction is it makes you feel important while diluting usefulness at the same time.

The habit of hurry drains fulfillment and frustrates engagement.

No one achieves excellence by doing one thing while thinking about the next thing.

Distraction dilutes everything it touches.

Meaningful contribution requires merciless elimination of insignificant action.

Urgencies:

Some urgencies require attention. Many urgencies are seductive distraction.

You’re so important that you couldn’t possibly control your day. What self-delusion! Hurry is a badge of honor for distracted leaders.

All distracted leaders are ineffective.

Running from place to place and laboring over long to-do lists have increasingly become ways to communicate status: I’m so busy because I’m just so important, the thinking goes. NY Times

Perpetual hurry signals failure, not significance.

How to defeat distraction and do what matters:

#1. You.

The answer to managing your day is you.

It’s tragic that ‘competent’ leaders wave the white flag when it comes to time – the greatest treasure we have.

#2. Stop.

Stop doing other people’s work. Learn monkey management.

#3. Focus.

Focus on high-value high-return activities.

Avoid low-return activities.

The ability to distinguish between work that truly matters and busy work maximizes effectiveness.

People unintentionally assign low-value work to good people.

  1. Bring it up.
  2. Discuss it.
  3. Reject it every chance you get.

Note: If it truly matters to higher ups, it’s not low-value work. However, you might not be the best person to do it. Who might be more talented, available, and ready to take on work you could/should reject?

#4. Identify.

Identify one or two necessities you must complete before day’s end. No more than three.

Use necessity to evaluate urgency.

#5. Chill.

“For knowledge workers, large chunks of unstructured time are not rewards for doing good work — they’re prerequisites for it.” NY Times You’re doomed until you do this.

What’s dangerous about distracted leadership?

What helps you defeat distraction?

Bonus material:

‘Ugh, I’m so Busy’: A Status Symbol for our Time (Atlantic)

7 Proven Strategies for Overcoming Distraction (Entrepreneur)