“It's so funny, you always make a cuppa when you are doing something difficult!” A colleague Kerry said this to me one normal Wednesday morning. And she was right… when I am doing something tough or even boring, I offer to make the tea more frequently.
This got me thinking…..why?
It turns out I am using the act of making tea as a distraction. Now considering we all have more and more things to distract us these days is it possible for us to manage the distractions and focus more?
It’s been said it can take up to 25mins to refocus on an original task once distracted. But even if the distraction only takes your mind away from the job in hand for a few moments, this impacts performance and could increase error rates, meaning you and your team could be less productive.
So how do we get less distracted and more focused?
Here is my 4-step guide to being less distracted.
STEP 1 - Identify what is distracting you
Background Activity and Noise & People Interrupting
Clutter (How many times whilst working from home, do you think I’ll just tidy the kitchen or put the washing on?)
STEP 2 - Identify why are you being distracted
Lack of clarity on what to do first
Internal distraction - something on your mind you need to resolve
A task is difficult, or you are finding something hard.
Distraction could be seen as a ‘confusion of what really matters’.
STEP 3 - Decide if the distraction is helpful or negative
Now we probably all think distraction is all negative – well yes – if kept unchecked it is, but sometimes being distracted can help your cognitive thinking. The distraction gets you out of a rut of thinking and into another mindset. It also helps with creativity.
Define what matters to you and your team, and always keep this in mind when you get distracted.
Does the distraction help you do what really matters or not?
STEP 4 - Reset & Re focus
A) Remind yourself about what matters (vision/goal). B) Have a word with yourself. C) Remove yourself from the distraction or the distraction from your workspace. D) Refocus on the next task to move you forward.
Here are some top tips to stop from being distracted in the first place.
Keep your vision and goal in mind
Visualize yourself working
Plan your day and stick to it (notice when you don’t and why)
Break work into chunks and do them ‘1 thing at a time’
Only set your self 2 or 3 items to achieve in the day
Do these set task as soon as possible
Work with other productive and focused people
Set boundaries and time slots for colleague and team to interrupt
Turn off all internet notifications and leave the phone on ‘Do not Disturb’ for a set period.
Take regular breaks
Set deadlines – I’m going to work for 30mins on X
Say to yourself I’m just going to do 10mins on project Y
Do what you are capable of and leave the hard stuff till later.
Hope this helps you be less distracted, become more focused and productive.