15 November 2018
It would be all too easy today to spend hours watching the news channels and social media, to try to keep track of the seemingly chaotic Brexit and political situation. But, instead of wasting hours watching market and pound fluctuations, wouldn’t your time be better spent focussing on what you do best?
Brexit has caused one of the biggest distractions of modern times. The uncertainty around every area of the negotiation is, of course, concerning to everyone in the country. However, there’s little that we can do about it at this very moment, other than wait for clarity from our government. So, do you really need to know those snippets of information right now?
In the meantime, here are my tips to avoid distraction and, instead, plough your energy into building your own success story.
Whenever there is a developing story, the news is constantly updating and changing. It’s therefore effectively a waste of time watching the information coming in little by little, rather than assessing the whole story at the end of the day. Think about how many hours you spend distracted watching the news trickle in.
So, instead, log off. If you need to, give yourself a 15-minute window to check in on the news story.
Do not disturb
The single biggest distraction out there is the constant buzz of notifications. The majority of us have our phones with us 24/7. They go into the bathroom, they’re by the bed, they’re in a pocket. We’re constantly contactable whether we want to be or not. It’s almost impossible to concentrate on one task when your attention is consistently pulled in a different direction.
Most phones these days have a ‘do not disturb’ function which mutes notifications apart from a pre-defined list of emergency contacts. Simply putting this on is enough to reduce the distraction caused by mobile phones. Even better, put your phone away. Keep it in your handbag or pocket, or in a drawer.
I believe that email is the greatest productivity killer in business. Imagine if for every email you got, instead the sender came to your desk to ask you in person. You would never get anything done! So why do we continue to put pressure on ourselves to read and respond to every email in an instant.
Instead, try booking in times in the day to check your inbox. I run through my emails at the end of each day, planning in the most important tasks or conversations for the next day. This routine means that people know not to expect an immediate response, that I am not constantly checking my screen and that we can focus our energy on the most important tasks rather than trying to address everything as and when it comes in.
Take a break
If you’re being pulled into all of these distractions, perhaps you’re not as passionate about the task you’re doing as you thought you were. Stop. Take a break. Take a few moments to recharge your batteries and to establish whether you’re the best person for this task. If you’re not passionate about it, could you do as good a job as someone who really enjoyed the task? Whilst we can’t pass on every task we don’t enjoy, it’s worth considering if there is someone who would get a better result rather than you simply ploughing through it.
What are your tips for staying focussed? Let me know in the comments below.