WD World

It’s Time to Focus Before You Get Distracted

(Read fast because you only have 3 minutes.)

How many times do you look at your phone in a given day? Do you get interrupted multiple times an hour? Do you feel an urge to check your phone or email often? Do you wonder what happened to your day? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then this blog post is for you.

I am going to be clear from the start. I am far from an expert in this area, but I definitely feel like it is a topic worth researching, especially in the world of advertising. In a Fast Company interview with Gloria Mark, professor at the University of California, she states that we switch between activities every 3 minutes. We even self interrupt ourselves such as check email or our phone. This same study says when we are interrupted, we average over 23 minutes to get back to the task. Does anyone else think this is crazy? How do we get anything done? I even found an article in the Daily Mail that says that the average mobile phone user checks their phone 1500 times per week. That is 215 times per day or 13 times an hour assuming about 16 hours awake.

Even if you don’t believe all these statistics, you have to admit some of it is true. What do we do about it? The interruptions increase stress and decrease productivity by 25% to 40%, so it is a problem worth addressing. In my research I found some helpful tips that may work for you.

Since we may have about 2 more minutes before you get distracted, I will pick the top 5 things you can do.

  1. Set Goals – I know you have heard this before, but it really is the first step to improve productivity. I could write a whole blog post about the importance of this. What is most important is that you make S.M.A.R.T goals, which are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. Michael Hyatt writes in his Best Year Ever course to also include Exciting and Realistic, which is even S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Write them down and review them regularly.
  1. Schedule Your Week — This definitely takes some practice if you don’t already do it. Schedule your commitments and schedule your goals. If you want to exercise, put it on the calendar. If you want to read more, schedule it. Also, be sure not to schedule every minute of your week. You need margin for the unexpected and for your sanity.

Ok. I still have a minute and 30 seconds so don’t check your email yet.

  1. Take Care of Your Body — Don’t laugh, but you are supposed to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Everyone knows that exercise is important, but it really does improve focus. I believe you get back the time of sleeping and exercising due to increased productivity and energy.
  1. Be Intentional —The main premise is that we should spend time on important tasks that are not yet urgent. In his book “First Things First”, Stephen Covey calls this quadrant 2 of the Time Management Matrix. We should make lists but constantly prioritize the list, focusing on the most important areas that are helping us meet our goals. Schedule your larger tasks on your calendar. Make other people aware of your goals and set expectations.
  1. Plant Seeds — In the book “The One Thing”, the Pareto Principle states that the minority of your effort leads to the majority of your results. The more time spent on the most important areas of your life will pay huge dividends in the future. Check out the Sharpen the Saw story in “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. This is a great book to read if you haven’t read it. We should spend time on professional development. Spend time considering where you and/or your company wants to be next year and in 5 years. Train, delegate, and empower others. Plant the seeds now so you will be where you want to be later.

I know that my time is up now, and hopefully you didn’t check that text you got while reading this. Once again, I have much to learn on this subject and need to keep reminding myself of what I already know. This is a distracting world, and it can be easy to forget and lose focus. Remember the words of Stephen Covey, “The main thing is that we keep the main thing the main thing.”

I just noticed that I have lost track of time and now I am late to my next meeting. How ironic.

*Photo: Ryan Harvey

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