It’s no secret. We live in a world of constant distraction.
We are barraged with mail, email, phone calls, skype, text, media, social media, and frequent visitors to our offices. There is a constant flow of information and demands, and according to a New York Times article, it takes 25 minutes to get back to center once we have been distracted.
How do leaders maximize productivity for themselves and their teams, while still maintaining necessary communications?
Here are some practical ideas to help you prevent BADD (Business Attention Deficit Disorder).
Block out times for concentrated focus.
We all like to think we are multi-tasking experts; but the fact is, we are not. It’s been tested and proven. We need times of total focus on one thing. So turn off all devices (put them in a drawer, out of your line of vision), block calls, clear your desk (or go to an empty conference table), and shut the door. Eliminate all possible distractions. Set a timer at the top of each hour, for instance, and work with total focus for a half hour or forty-five minutes. When the timer goes off, stop. For the remainder of the hour, take a break, move around, and use that time to make phone calls and check email in rapid-fire fashion. At the top of the hour, shift back to focus mode.
Allow this same courtesy to your staff.
Executives (and I know this because I was one) are guilty of fly-by’s. We have a thought and immediately go out to download that thought to our assistants. They barely have time to absorb that task into their current list and re-shift focus before we’re back at the desk with our next great idea for them to implement, all the while asking for a status update on previous assignments.
And then we wonder why they are not able to accomplish all in a day that we think they should.
As the leader of your team, work out a system with your staff that allows everyone focus times to work without interruption.
Determine your three do-or-you-don’t-leave items each day.
You will be tempted to list twenty items, but the reality is you will only really be able to accomplish three main goals on most days. Write them down and put them in front of you. Look at that list several times a day. Where you do get distracted, this list brings you back to center more quickly.
This simple exercise forces you to determine and do the real priorities in your business. If done properly, you can grow your bottom line exponentially by doing this rather than doing those twenty less focused tasks. This is about being very strategic in your work and in the work of your team.
One interesting aspect of the New York Times article was how the “high alert” group excelled all others. This is because they knew they had little time. Limited time brings maximum focus.
If you’re driving 25 miles an hour, you may not be giving full attention to driving. But if you’re driving 125 miles an hour, you’re going to be driving with focused intensity. Why is this? It is because you know the timeframe for reaching the curve or something coming into your path is highly concentrated.
This is the magic of setting that timer. If you have a series of smaller tasks to do, set the timer for shorter intervals. But give yourself deadlines.
Deadlines and focus pack a powerful punch.
One more thing…
Anyone who has been diagnosed with ADD will tell you that focus and structure go hand-in-hand. They will tell you that removing distractions, having a schedule, and being accountable are key. The same is true for Business ADD.
Leaders, set yourself and your team up for productive success by following these guidelines. The results may surprise you.