“The most obvious drawback of social media is that they are aggressive distractions.
“One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us.
“I attribute much of my success in New York to my ability to understand and avoid unnecessary distractions.
‘I think the older I get the more creative I get, I don’t have the distractions that I had when I was younger.
“Once you decide to do right, life is easy, there are no distractions.
Top Distractions: Smart. Phones, ?!? Decisions, Emails, Clutter, Co-Workers, XF Meetings, Micro-Mgt, Multi-Tasking, poor Policies, People & Hunger Games.
Distractions. Whether you’re working from home, your favorite coffee shop Starbucks, or in a bustling office, distractions have become a familiar happening of the modern workplace. In some cases – specifically for creative tasks – distractions can be a good thing. That may sound “counter-intuitive”, but distractions can help us get out of a rut known as cognitive fixation. We also have an internal urge to be distracted.
Frequency. However, considering that we get distracted – on the average – every 11 minutes and it takes 25 minutes for our brains to get back on the track — workplace distractions should be avoided as much as possible.
Reduces Performance. According to a survey conducted by Udemy (online Courses, of course), workplace distractions negatively impact performance, productivity, & potential. What’s more, to compensate for these interruptions, people often try to work faster. A UC Irvine study shows that this increases stress & frustration. And, even a brief interruption doubles an employee’s error rate.
Effects. In short, constant distractions don’t just affect the bottom line. They can also be detrimental to an individual’s health. How can you address these workplace distractions before they become an issue?
Solution. You need to start by identifying what’s exactly distracting you or your team. Knowing what the distraction is and how it is happening can help you make a plan to squash these interruptions. Here are 12 of the most common Disturbances that you should conquer:
1. Smart Phones . . .
can make us dumb-founded. Overcoming your reliance on your Smart Phone is no easy task, but it’s not impossible. The tried and true methods are to put your phone on airplane mode or use the phone’s “do not disturb” function. This action can be done on both Android or iPhone. You can also place your phone in another room or leave it in a desk drawer, bag or purse.
Other Solutions: Scheduling specific times throughout the day to make or take calls, also helps cut down on “heavy work-hours usage.” Turn your phone off when I need to focus solely on your work. Usually, this takes only a few hours. After I’ve completed my work, I check my phone to make sure I haven’t missed anything important. To ensure that I don’t get too consumed, I only give myself a few minutes of phone-time before diving back into work.
2. Decision Fatigue ?!?
The possible fix is to reduce the number of decisions that you make daily. Make it easy by making decisions by this Decision Matrix
- Urgent & Important = Do it now !!!
- Not Urgent. but Important = Schedule when
- Not Important, Urgent = Delegate to most capable person
- Not Important, Not Urgent = Eliminate
Also create a system where routine Tasks are automate, and therefore – no decisions have to be made. You can review the system periodically to determine if you need to tweek (adjust) it .
We send out a lot of emails. How many? Well, in 2017 a staggering 269 billion Emails were sent daily worldwide. That Email figure is expected to jump to around 333 billion in the 2020.
Solution. Like your Smart Phone, there’s also the temptation to stop what you’re doing and check your inbox as soon as a new message arrives. Unfortunately, if you did this all day, how could you possibly get any work done? The easiest solution is to turn off your Email notifications on your phone. You should also close any apps or web browsers containing your Email. Also use an app like SaneBox to manage your inbox because it filters out the messages that aren’t important. The most important thing to remember is if there’s an emergency, you aren’t just going to be notified via Email. People will call you or knock on your door. Everything else can wait until you have the scheduled time to go through your inbox.
While in small doses, a little clutter can encourage a creative mind, the fact is that a messy workplace affects your ability to focus & process information. Confusion & disorder are essentially a To-Do List that reminds you of everything that needs to be done. As such, it pulls you away from being present. Over time, this makes you more anxious and stressed.
The Fix? Keep your workspace clean & organized. Toss out the items you no longer need. Place paperwork in the appropriate files. Ideally, you should put as much paperwork on the cloud as possible to reduce the number of filing cabinets. Make sure that all of your office supplies have a home and are returned at the end of the day.
When? Even if you don’t do this daily, you should at least clean your workspace every week. For example, Friday afternoon is perfect. You’ve probably already mentally clocked-out for the week, so this is a soft task that can be done quickly.
Conversing with your employees, colleagues, & business partners are all essential for building a friendly & collaborative company culture. However, spending too much talking about other irrelevant things or rumors isn’t just a major distraction. Unfounded information, itself, can also create a toxic workplace.
Solution. As a leader, you just can not allow unfounded rumors in the workplace. It needs to be addressed & handled immediately — even if it’s something dire like letting an employee go. As for friendly chit-chat, you need to set boundaries.
If someone engages you in a conversation, and you’re busy, politely tell them that you currently don’t have time to talk, but you can catch-up with during lunch or other time. You can also send-out signals without saying anything by wearing headphones when you don’t want to be disturbed.
6. Excessive Meetings
Some meetings are notorious for being unproductive & distracting time-wasters. Time is lost because people are pulled away from their work, then forced to sit in a meeting – for usually a long time — even though they don’t have to be in attendance.
Solution: Before scheduling a meeting, think long & hard if it’s necessary. In a lot of cases, you may be able to skip the meeting and communicate with your team via Email, or a project management tool like Trello. If a meeting is really needed, only invite critical stakeholders, create an agenda, and keep it as short as possible.
Although you should know what’s going on with your business, being a “hovering helicopter” boss isn’t just a distraction for your team. They also find it frustrating, unnerving & anxiety-producing. Instead of encouraging responsibility and letting your team do what you hired them to do – if you’re continually disturbing them by obsessing over every detail – you’re discouraging them. Disruptions stifle creativity, self-growth, and destroys the trust between you & your employees.
Solution. Giving-up some control is never easy for some entrepreneurs. But, you need to let your team do their thing. If you are not a micro-manager, it doesn’t mean thoroughly checking out. It means keeping tabs on everyone and guiding them without interfering with their work throughout the day.
I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of juggling too many tasks at once. You’re a successful leader / entrepreneur — why can’t you juggle multiple responsibilities at once? The truth is that our brains are not capable of focusing well on more than one thing at a time. Multi-Tasking usually doesn’t save time or make you more productive. It actually slows you down. “Switching from task to task, you think you’re actually paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you’re actually not.
Reduces Efficiency. Additionally, when you Multi-Task you make more mistakes, reduce creative thinking, and are potentially reducing your brain capability. Multi-Tasking was one of the more difficult bad habits to overcome.
9. Overly Strict Policies.
When it comes to Company Culture, most employers like to enforce a set of policies to encourage employees to arrive on time. However, overly strict policies can be more stress-inducing. If employees are worried and hurry during their traffic-heavy commute, they’re starting off the day on a bad vibe. This can hurt overall employee morale – especially for those who travel long distances all week. They may be showing up to work already hat punctuality is important, but what’s more important is performance.
Flex. You could offer employees a “flexable” schedule where they can arrive at work later in the morning to avoid the hectic commute. Another option would be allowing them to work remotely occasionally. This shows consideration for your situation and promotes more loyalty.
10. People Interruptions
Interruptions from other employees, customers, and family are sometimes unavoidable – depending where you are. Shoulder tapping,” is one of their most common distractions.
Solution. One way around this is keeping your office door closed when you don’t want to be disturbed. For good measure, place a “do not disturb” sign on the door. If you work in an open office space, send signals like wearing headphones. If someone has a direct and work-related question, give them the answer and move on. Another tactic is to plan for these interpretations. For example, you could block out in your schedule – a period where you’re available for drop-ins. Also add some buffer time between tasks & meetings. This way if someone comes with a question it’s not going to throw my entire schedule out-of-whack.
11. Satisfying your Hunger
It’s almost impossible to focus, when your stomach is growling. Unfortunately, we satisfy this craving with “junk” food because it’s quick & readily available. It takes a lot of willpower to avoid the Vending machine or call-in a Pizza delivery. But, you need healthier options that will eliminate your hunger while keeping you focused and energized.
Solution. Stock up your office with healthier snack options. Don’t go totally Nuts about it, but Cheese doth please & Fruit is a good route. Have a meeting of all employees and have them make suggestions for healthy snacks they like. Then form a committee to pick the best. You – as leader – will have the final decision.