Partner at Upping Your ElvisView Author Profile
Distraction is the curse of productivity, so how can you keep focused on the job in hand?
Distraction is my kryptonite. At worst, I actively go looking for it (usually when my energy is dipping.) At best, I am continually in a fight to resist it’s many tempting forms. There are of course benefits to a ‘welcomed distraction’, a chance to consciously step away from something in order to refresh, re-energise and relax.
My fight is with the unchecked, uncensored, continual interference that we’re bombarded with every minute of the day that threatens to take my attention away from the task at hand. My coping strategy is often to multi-task, deal with all the distraction and firefight my way through a day.
But I know this strategy is neither smart nor clever! We have brains with billions of neurons and many trillions of connections, but we don’t thrive doing multiple things at the same time. Sadly, I’m told multitasking is a myth, it does not exist, at least not as we think about it. Instead we switch tasks.
Apparently, it takes time (an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds) to re-orient to a primary task after a distraction such as an email, a tweet, a text, a WhatsApp ‘ping’, a Facebook ‘buzz’ and LinkedIn ‘whatever’.
According to the American Psychological Association our efficiency drops by as much as 40%. Long-term memory suffers and creativity — a skill associated with keeping in mind multiple, less common, associations — is reduced.
Our consultancy, Upping your Elvis, is all about waking business up and embedding a culture of energy, awareness and creativity. We want people to feel creatively alive.
I thought I’d face the demons that drive me to distraction and share with you some of the things I find help give me clarity, stay in the moment, remain focused and ultimately become more of a deadly creative ninja!
Turn off the tech
Creative thinking needs singular focus and clarity of mind. Every notification you receive drags you back to the world you’re trying to escape. Our rule is to switch notifications off, unless essential, and make sure no tech is visible when we run creative sessions, meetings or get togethers.
It’s the one constant and yet all too often we forget its power. Taking a few long deep breaths slows everything down, feeds your brain with oxygen and allows you the space to bring awareness and clarity to stay on task.
Just as a breath feeds your mental energy, you need to do things to manage your physical energy. If you remain stationary for a chunk of time we start to shut down, disengage from the task and eventually become mischievous. Keep moving around.
Have a Buddy
To keep you in check. Someone you can lean on to keep you on track, energised and focused.
Remember what humans need to be at their best. They need to be stimulated, involved, engaged, energised, fed and watered. When running meetings, conferences and creative sessions take all these things into account. Incorporate lots of breaks, relevant stimulus and exercises and focus and productivity will abound.
Listen to the Voices
In your head, we all have them…and if you are reading this going “I don’t have any voices in my head”…that’s the voice! Internal dialogue is generally unhelpful and a big distraction. It’s focus tends to be on worrying about what others are thinking of you and what that means for you! We’re all the same.
Take a leaf out of Coco Chanels’ book “I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” Easier said than done but remember most of us are thinking about ourselves and our own shortcomings—not others.
Wake up! – Escape Autopilot
Break some of the unhealthy habits and routines that we all end up generating. You’ll feel more alive, more alert and less likely to succumb to those distracting temptations!
Good luck…Stop reading this blog and get back to whatever it is that counts!
Jim Lusty is a speaker, trainer and partner Upping Your Elvis @uppingyourelvis @jimlusty
Are You Driven to Distraction?