Taking These Actions Will Stop Distraction
Distractions are everywhere in our lives. Learn how to fight distractions by taking these effective actions.
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We live in a world of constant distraction! You used to be able to close your door for some peace so you could concentrate. But nowadays — unless you bury your cell phone in the backyard — it's hard to escape the constant distraction of alerts, emails and texts.
Cell phones are the most common form of distraction, then comes the internet and social media. Most of us have learned to be disciplined and avoid those obvious distractions while working. But what about the distractions we create for ourselves, thinking they are actions that are necessary for our success? These "necessary" distractions, like any other, cost you a lot more than you think.
Related: This Is How Employers Can Encourage Workplace Productivity
"Necessary" distractions cost you time
Researchers at the University of California at Irvine found that after you've been distracted, it takes 23 minutes to re-focus on what you were doing again. I had trouble believing this at first. Could it really take that long? But study after study says the same thing. That's why many people feel like they're always busy but never able to get anything done. Interrupting what you're doing for 30 seconds to answer a team member's question may not seem like a big deal. But in reality, you haven't just lost 30 seconds. You've lost 30 seconds plus the 23 minutes it will take you to get back on track. So, if you answer 3 "quick questions" every hour, you've blown the whole day!
Related: 5 Big Distractions That Sabotage Your Entrepreneurial Success
"Necessary" distractions cost you quality
Even if you get back to work, how good will the quality of the work really be? Researchers at George Mason University tested how distractions affect the quality of output. Students were told to write three essays. They were given 12 minutes to plan and outline each essay and then 12 to 20 minutes to write it. While working on one of the essays, the students weren't interrupted at all. For the other essays, the students were interrupted and asked to do quick puzzles either during the planning or writing stages. Every single essay that was written with distractions scored substantially lower than the ones completed without distractions.
Here are some of the distractions we fool ourselves into thinking are necessary — and how to substitute effective action instead.
1. Gathering too much information
"The result of information overload is usually distraction, and it dilutes your focus and takes you off your game" — Zig Ziglar.
We all must stay informed about our industry, markets, economy and current trends. But how much do you really need to know before acting on it? Constantly gathering more and more information or more opinions from others is a time waster.
Effective action: Get the essential information you need, then pull the trigger.
Related: How to Stop Information Overload in its Tracks
2. Being available 24/7
Many entrepreneurs have an "open door policy" with their teams. While this may build camaraderie, it can distract you and your staff. We also want our clients to feel like we're "there" for them whenever they need us. So, they feel free to text or call at the drop of a hat! Stop interrupting what you're doing to answer every request!
Effective action: Set up specific times when your clients and team know you'll respond to emails and calls and when you're available.
3. Getting caught up in busyness
"The challenge for so many of us is that we are so deep into … "being busy, busy" that we miss out on those moments and opportunities that — if jumped on — would get our careers and personal lives to a whole new level of wow," — Robin S. Sharma.
Every business has mundane nuts and bolts that need to be handled, and, honestly, those routine tasks can be a lot less pressure than making sales calls or creating new products. But as an entrepreneur, your job is to be the visionary who sees the big picture and guides the ship forward, innovates and anticipates. You can't do that if you spend hours creating invoices or getting shipping quotes.
Effective action: Either find someone else to do the busy work or implement systems to handle them.
Related: Are You Losing Your Humanity to the Scourge of Busyness?
4. Sweating the small stuff
Worrying about things you can't control or your mistakes in the past is a huge distraction from taking positive action now. Wondering if the wording in your last email blast was perfect or stressing over whether your presentation is better than your competitor's, is a complete waste of time. As the leader in your business, you and your brain have many more important things to focus on.
Effective action: Learn from the past, then forget it. Prioritize action over perfection. Improve what you can and accept what you can't.
As you go through your day, check yourself. Are you setting yourself up for lots of distractions? If so, how much is it really costing you? What effective action could you take instead? Take the time to analyze where your focus is daily. You'll be amazed at how much productivity and traction you'll gain when you manage and minimize those "necessary" distractions and replace them with effective action that really impacts your business!