Distractions Killing Your Flow? Try This Method.
Are distractions getting in your way? Have you noticed that many times when you are focusing on your work and are approaching that momentum where things start to flow easily, you get interrupted?
Most entrepreneurs have created productivity habits that work for them, yet upon closer inspection, they realize that when they are trying to get something done, tasks often take more time than had been originally budgeted. This is caused by distractions: A co-worker who needs something from them, a phone call from a potential client, a team member with questions about a project.
Every time you are interrupted or distracted, the energy you were building from moving your project forward is halted, and you need to start over. Too many times, you need to gather new strength to pick up where you left off, and you may waste valuable minutes trying to figure out exactly where that was.
Science continues to prove what our intuition knows: Interruptions do impact productivity. However, there may be a positive or negative impact to your productivity. According to University of California, Irvine researcher Dr. Gloria Mark, there may be a difference between the different kinds of distractions or interruptions. Interruptions that add to the task at hand make us more productive. Alternatively, interruptions on topics different from what we’re working on force us to change our work rhythms, strategies and even mental states.
So what can we do about it? Identify one piece of work that deserves about 45 minutes of focused attention. Then go to a place where you can be alone. It can be a different office or conference room or even the nearby coffee shop. By getting away from your desk, you will not be available for phone calls or to check your emails.
If you take your laptop with you, remember that this is time to focus on work, so avoid doing anything unrelated to this specific task.
Can’t leave your desk? You can still have a “meeting with yourself” by simply use a digital timer to hold you accountable to a 45-minute work session. (My current favorite countdown timer is www.e.ggtimer.com.)
Before starting a work session, think of the people that might interrupt you -- it may be a team member, a client or even a manager -- and interrupt them first. You can use the time before your focus period to get in contact with them and anticipate anything they may need from you. You should also mention that you will be unavailable during the next 45 minutes because you will focus on a specific piece of work that needs to get done.
They will understand and over time, they will respect this focus time and avoid interrupting you.
This will not only save you time every day, but it can also make your team more efficient and independent. Go ahead and try it for five days.
Jason W. Womack is the CEO of The Womack Company, an international training firm that helps busy professionals be more productive through coaching and consulting. He is co-founder of the Get Momentum Leadership Academy, author of Your Best Just Got Better (Wiley, 2012) and co-author with his wife, Jodi Womack, of Get Momentum: How To Start When You’re Stuck (Wiley, 2016). Since 2000 he has coached leaders across industries and trained them in the art of increasing their workplace productivity and achieving personal happiness.