The cost of distraction
The past few years, work in organizations has increasingly become more complex. As technology evolves and work from home increases, both people’s time and expectations have been stretched. But this has come at the expense of massive distractions such as our smartphone constantly interrupting us. Now more than ever, we need strategies to counteract the distraction and effectively become more productive.
Where to start?
Work on hard things first
Distractions sometimes are caused by internal and external factors, but other times they occur because our work does not challenge us enough. Work tends to expand to fill the time available to complete it, and any remaining excess time is usually for distraction. The more hard work we perform, the less likely we are to be distracted in our excess time.
Exercise your attention muscle
Attention is a muscle, and the attractiveness of interruptions is evidence of atrophy or underdevelopment. But as long as the muscle grows stronger, more time will be able to concentrate on a task; be patient as that muscle develops. It is also possible to improve that muscle by using your time at the wheel or on the bus to simply calm down and allow your mind to come up and present ideas.
Make time and space to focus: silence can be therapeutic and boosts creativity. Know which are your most productive moments in the day, then schedule blocks of time to do deep work. Create a ritual around the construction of a quiet space where phones and alerts are set to off. Apps like Freedom are a great way to get started. At first, you may feel like giving up, but hold on. Write down how long you can focus and allow to increase your structured solitude sessions gradually to match your ability.
Auto Impose deadlines
Introduce a system of deadlines for projects to which we usually dedicate more time than necessary. This includes routinely tasks such as writing emails, reports, creating powerpoint presentations, etc. The more attention we put into these tasks, the quicker we’ll get them done and the less distractions we will eventually have available for more important tasks.
We have the option to take control of distractions and not let them undermine your performance, increase your stress, and weaken your ability to pay attention. Doing so will result in continually benefiting from our always connected world without draining your energy or productivity.
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