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How do you deal with distraction?


In today’s world it’s easy to spend all day connecting on LinkedIn, meeting people, reading and sending emails, reading blogs, magazines, papers, best practice etc. and actually end up doing nothing of any real significance. It can feel like another full-time job just to keep on top with the deluge of information out there – all of which seems to be relevant and important.

And even if you find it easy to stay focused, what about the people that work for you? Are they being as productive as you think? They may look busy, but they may also be getting distracted by being overly reactive to emails or by reading a diverting article that has popped into their inbox and which (ironically) promises to hold the key to a productive and fruitful career.

Or they may be deliberately distracting themselves because they can. In an article for The New Statesman, Ed Smith writes:

“The art of being an employee is to string things out while pretending to be busy. The art of being self-employed is the opposite: getting things done well and efficiently, while being open to taking on new work. Employees gain an incentive to look effortful, the self-employed to look effortless.”

The world is changing, and business owners have a new challenge in managing both their own and their employee’s productivity whilst embracing the wealth of education and opportunities that technology gives us.

Some strategies you could try are:

  • Close your email and switch off your phone for defined chunks of the day. If you can get away with closing down your broadband during this period, even better!

  • Make this even more powerful by doing it when you know you are at your most productive – perhaps for a couple of hours first thing in the morning and immediately after a lunch break.

  • First thing each day, set a list of priority tasks. Move your focus from the paralysing feeling of having an unmanageable number of things to how good you will feel when you tick them off.

  • Consider a short course of coaching sessions. A trained business coach can help you find your own strategies for resolving your productivity issues or those within your business – and perhaps more importantly, challenge you to stick to them!

Of course it’s quite straightforward - take one thing at a time, choose the most important thing first and start it now. If only it were actually that easy!


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