Let’s begin with a definition of distraction – that which distracts, divides the attention, or prevents concentration – A distraction is something that takes your attention away from what you’re supposed to be doing. (dictionary.com and vocabulary.com)
Now the question? What is on your list? How long is your list? How about you take one minute, right now, 60 seconds and write a list of one or two word distractions you deal with on a daily basis.
Here is the thing – regardless of your workplace – by yourself or in a relaxed dress code more casual start up model or in a more corporate environment -we all – every single one of us deal with distractions every single day. And that is only the workplace, how about your personal life!
Distraction is everywhere!
The most difficult aspect of these distractions is the recovery. Some studies report it takes a full fifteen to twenty minutes to regain the focus you had before the distraction to get back on track with whatever you were working on! Four distractions in one day adds up to over an hour a day trying to regain your focus. Worse is most people are distracted way more than four times each day.
Here is a quick review of many of the common distractions. Feel free to go to the comments section and add in your distraction of note especially if it is not mentioned here.
Social Media and direct messages – Text messages – Email – phone calls
Obsessions with sports, politics, music, movies, restaurants, shopping, eating, smoking, your favorite subject of this month
Technology and Tools
The growth of technology and tools and how pervasive they have become in all of our lives has changed our behavior forever. Technology and devices were going to help us to all become more productive. Instead we are now available all of the time. Our work lives really never end. At least this is the expectation we have bought into. Many of us have an expectation of an immediate response to our email to someone – More so of a direct message via Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn – “it has been almost two minutes! What could they possibly be doing!” Tell me honestly, you really have never thought this or said this out loud after typing and sending your message?
The ability to go online to actually purchase with shipping to your home virtually anything has created a 24 X 7 store for anything. From shoes to workout clothes, to homes to cars, to vacations to chainsaws. With a few clicks and some price comparison and reading a couple of reviews – all set – CLICK – PURCHASE CONFIRMED.
The backlash at certain companies is to block the use of the internet in all work areas. No outside access through WIFI or anything – period. Before this was the case you didn’t mind sitting at your desk eating your tuna sandwich or spinach salad with grilled chicken as long as you were able to click around. Now you have to go outside and go somewhere, Starbucks, anywhere where there is a WIFI signal so you may check your personal email and maybe do some shopping or at least window/virtually shopping.
You know, we all know there is much more, let’s stop here.
Ask yourself, seriously ask yourself, what would happen if I turned it all off for a few hours everyday and only gave my focus to my work? Put up an auto-responder message stating from 1 PM until 5 PM (or whatever time you select) no messages will be received or responded to? What would be the result? Would you become more productive and less distracted? Give it some time as you may have to deal with withdrawal symptoms and you will definitely have to train others to understand and respect your revised work schedule.
Who knows, maybe others will follow your lead and everyone will become more productive together.
Mitch Tublin is a speaker, coach and trainer based in Stamford, CT. Are you looking for Mitch to speak at your next meeting about productivity in the workplace, leadership or more effective communication?
Rich Gee says
Mitch – Great ideas here – we all suffer from some sort of distraction – this really helps! – Rich
Tandy Elisala says
Mitch, distractions are a real struggle… or at least they can be. I like to block schedule and keep my tabs to a minimum. It works!