Navigating Distractions and Interruptions

17 Jun

No, I’m not telling you to use fewer devices and use them less frequently. To me, that is insane advice in this era and especially this season when technology is one of our most valuable tools. I do think we can tweak our approach to technology and come out as better leaders on the other side.

Interruption is known to reduce productivity, possibly because of the time it takes us to refocus on the task at hand. Whether you were working in a crowded, open-layout office setting prior to COVID-19 or you’re now at home working with kids playing in the next room, interruptions can be challenging. Interruptions may have a greater impact on your work than you think.

Because interruptions can’t be planned, here are a few points to consider as you work this week.

  1. Give yourself (and others) grace. People are always more important than tasks, so whoever is interrupting you may need your attention more than the thing you’re trying to finish on your computer.

  2. Build in extra time to complete projects and meet deadlines to account for interruptions that may not have part of your old normal.

  3. Come up with a method to refocus quickly after being disrupted such as looking at a goal sheet or to-do list that will put you back on track.

Refocusing quickly is the key to maintaining your momentum and it takes practice. Below you'll find a few resources to help you improve your focus.

Distraction is more personal and often has deeper roots. You may be conditioned to react to certain stimuli and not realize how your reactions are impacting your life. The thing that grabs your attention isn’t necessarily bad, it’s the “why” that needs to be addressed. 

Here are a few questions for you to ponder as you find yourself distracted today.

  1. What feelings are associated with distractions? (Do I feel lonely or anxious when I need to scroll through social media or the news for a long time? Is sadness the root of wanting to mindlessly eat junk food?)

  2. What rewards have I connected with certain actions? (If I hear a notification on my phone, what do I get from checking my email?)

  3. How can I address underlying issues that are associated with my distractions?

There isn’t an easy answer, but spending time working on these areas will benefit you, your family, and the teams you lead. Leading begins with self awareness. Be an amazing leader.

I love this book and continue to refer back to it to continue improving my awareness of the causes for all the mindless things I do.

This one is always a go-to when I find myself slipping and getting too caught up in the wrong habits.

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