On a recent poll on Facebook, I asked for business owners to share the biggest distractions they face each day. I’m including the top three here, along with a few tips for minimizing the impact of the distractions.
WARNING: All of these tips will require you to change. Distractions are a part of life, and trying to eliminate them is impossible – you’ve got to manage yourself around the distractions.
WARNING #2: These tips are basics, and you are likely to think, “Well I already know that!” You may know it, but are you DOING it? Don’t let the “I know” syndrome lead you away from a deceptively simple tip that could be just the solution you’re looking for!
#3 Top Distraction: Email
I was surprised this wasn’t #1, actually! So how do you deal with the pinging and flashing that pulls you away from your priorities?
- Turn off all notifications. This means all sounds, visual alerts, icon appearing – everything.
- Turn off automatic send and receive. This means you receive email when YOU decide.
- Put checking your email in your schedule like an appointment. I check at 10:30am and 3pm. No one sends me emergency emails, so even a response time of 24 hours is appropriate in my business.
Basically, you must reframe how you think about email. It is a communication tool, NOT a priority manager.
#2 Top Distraction: Daily Operations
And I’ll lump in another category, “busy work”. The best thing to do to deal with the pull of daily operations is to have superior priority and time management. I could teach an entire class on this, but will limit myself to just a few tips.
- Plan your day the night before. If you go into work and then start planning your day, you may not get it planned until noon. And then, seriously, what’s the point? When you go into your office clear about your priorities and others make demands of your time, you’ll be able to easily discern where that new demand fits into your plan.
- Close the door. If you’re in an office, this is a literal suggestion. If you work from home, then it means turning off the phones, internet and email so that you can work on that priority list. With focus, you will complete the list in much less time than you expect, and you will deal with the rest of your day (and the people in it) much more cheerfully!
#1 Top Distraction: The Internet
With pop up notifications, social media, chat, and icons showing us how many “friends” we have waiting, is it a surprise that we are distracted by the internet? The internet is a distraction machine, and because we can’t expect it to change, we must change.
- Don’t leave social media running while you’re working on projects that require concentration.
Change your home page from one with flashy articles that will distract you to something simple like Google.
The bottom line? Determine your priorities, and make sure your environment doesn’t cut in line in front of them!