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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

How to Defeat being Distracted

If we were living in a perfect world, every day we would get up early in the morning, launch into what we had planned for the day and get everything checked off our accomplishment list. Feeling fulfilled for the day, we could then knock off the rest of the day doing fun things knowing tomorrow is another day and another list. That is in a perfect world, not necessarily the world most people live and work in.

In most people’s workday, they find themselves checking email for the eighth or ninth time or looking at something crazy like dog pictures on Facebook, or perhaps trying to tune out things you can overhear being said in the office. Of course, you started the day with the best of intentions, but your actual productivity did not quite match your plans. Somewhere along the line several times a day, you get robbed of your productivity goals by seemingly hard to resist distractions.

This is something most people struggle with and realistically it’s because we are bombarded with text alerts, email sounds, news and weather alerts, cell phone calls and other interruptions that were designed for us and elected by us to be a convenience but have somehow turned into making us a slave to their randomness. Even on the days you have an abundance of energy and get up and go, you have to contend with what is going on with your reports and co-workers.

Somewhere along the line several times a day, you get robbed of your productivity goals by hard to resist distractions.

Here are some tactics you can employ to help the distractions from spreading:

1. Focus on Yourself

Do some private time or exercise before you start your day. This can help you tune out most everything that is trying to invade your world and give you a chance to begin the day fresh and well balanced in your mind.

2. Stop Trying to Multitask

I have written about this extensively, but it seems like we have blown up multitasking as something to be desired as an achievement. It is not, trying to do several things at once pulls down your focus and output more than you obviously realize. Somehow you need to come to this realization, no matter what your feelings are telling you and stop this madness. It does NOT work.

3. Kick the Email Addiction

You do not have to check your email as much as you do. I would say the minimum would be five times per day. If you have a chance, check out the segment on our podcast Better Than Before Episode 225, on the 10 Best Practices for Email Efficiency. Get off the email crack drug ASAP, and learn to use email to your benefit, not as a time-waster.

4. Make Social Media Rules for Yourself

Determine the best way to back off the overuse of your smartphone and social media. As far as the smartphone is concerned, my iPhone has a setting that tells me how much screen time I used this week and whether or not my usage went up or down. I have been trending down around 20% each week for 4 weeks and it’s given me back much of my life. Give yourself a maximum amount of times you check social media and the amount of time you are going to allow for each check-in.

5. Get Support from Your Co-Workers

Tell everyone what your new focus goals are and how you plan to reach them, in addition, ask for their help in your goal achievement. Tell them if you are not visiting as much, or responding to emails as quickly, that it is by design and WHY this is important to you. They may, in fact, admire you and want to adopt some goals and plans for themselves when they see how much you are getting done with this new approach.

6. Do This One Day at A Time

Similar to physical exercise, you have to build up your focus muscle. You need to take it slow and achieve little victories to help to encourage yourself that you can do this, and it will pay off in greater productivity. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the horse and spend too much time on Instagram or find yourself back inside the endless email loop. The main thing is to have a plan and to begin working that plan. You will always go through a chaotic stage anytime you attempt to change a routine or rhythm that is well established. Move the needle a little more toward your goals on a daily basis and you can achieve a more focused, less distracted, highly productive state.

For more resources, sign up for Tony’s Monday Morning Coaching Memo.

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