Business Functions

The art of being indistractible

By Palak Sharma

In our daily life, we are pumped up every morning to start being productive. As we sit down, we are tempted to reply to somebody, or scroll Instagram or perhaps watch a video. Before we know it, we have lost momentum over productivity and haven’t accomplished even one task. It is rightly said, that, a lack of focus comes at a cost. In 1971, the psychologist Herbert A. Simon emphasized that a wealth of information means a dearth of something else: attention. That was true decades ago, but it’s more accurate than ever today.

In these times, everybody has so many hands-on-deck that the ideal nature to be able to focus and pay attention is easily lost. Researchers have been telling us that attention and focus are the raw materials of human creativity and flourishing. And in the age of increased automation, the most sought-after jobs are those that require creative problem-solving, novel solutions and the kind of human ingenuity that comes from focusing intensely on the task at hand.

The art of being “indistractible” can be achieved with a few simple measures. Below are listed the most common work-place distractions and how can you crack them.

Email

A study published in the International Journal of Information Management found office workers take an average of 64 seconds after checking email to reorient themselves to get back to work. To reduce the same,

1- Reduce the total number of messages received: To receive fewer emails, you must send fewer emails. Most emails we send and receive aren’t very urgent, yet we wish to reply instantly, which creates a diversion in our focus.

2 Reducing the time spent emailing: The most crucial aspect of an email is how urgently it needs a reply. When you first open an email, answer this question before closing it: When does this require a response? Then, tag it as either “Today” or “This Week.” Doing so attaches the most important information to each new message, preparing it for the second (and last) time you open it.

Group chats

Jason Fried, the co-founder of the famous group-chat app Basecamp, acknowledged that being in a group chat can be similar to “being in an all-day meeting with random participants and no agenda.”

He recommends enforcing three rules when it comes to group chats:

1- Use it like a sauna: Get in, get out.

2- Schedule it: Set a time for group chat on your calendar.

3- Be picky: The smaller the group, the better. The key is to make sure everyone present can add and extract value from being part of the conversation.

4- Use it selectively: Group chats are good for some topics and groups, but not for others — so be mindful about how you use it.

Meetings

The primary purpose of conducting a meeting should be to discuss the schedule and get the work-flow moving. Holding meetings for lesser important or no reasons captivates time. To ensure this,

1- Circulate an agenda of what problem(s) will be discussed. No agenda, no meeting.

2- Give their best shot at a solution in the form of a brief, written digest. It need not be more than a page or two discussing the problem, their reasoning and their recommendation.

Your phone

Our smartphones have become indispensable. The good news is, being dependent isn’t the same as being addicted.

1- Get rid of apps you rarely or no longer use. I uninstalled the ones that didn’t align with my values and kept the ones for learning and staying healthy. I also removed news apps with blaring alerts and stress-inducing headlines.

2- Get rid of the apps you love. This may mean getting rid of apps like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. If abandoning these services isn’t entirely an option for you, replace when and where you use these potentially distracting services on your phone. One solution is only to put them on your desktop computer.

3- Rearrange your apps. Tony Stubblebine, editor-in-chief of the popular Medium publication Better Humans, recommends sorting your apps into three categories: “Primary Tools” (apps that help you accomplish defined tasks you frequently rely on: getting a ride, finding a location, adding an appointment), “Aspirations” (apps that encourage you to do things you want to spend on meditation, yoga, exercise, reading books, listening to podcasts) and “Slot Machines” (apps you open and get lost in email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

4- Change your app notification settings, so you receive fewer, only essential notifications. Adjusting the notification settings took less than 30 minutes, but it was the most life-changing. All one needs to do is change two kinds of settings, sound and sight. Ask yourself which apps should be able to interrupt you when you’re with your family or in the middle of a meeting.

Coworkers

While open-office floor plans offices were designed to foster idea-sharing and collaboration, they often lead to more distraction. Interruptions tend to decrease overall employee satisfaction and increase mistakes.

multi-hospital study coordinated by the University of California, San Francisco, for example, found an 88% drop in the number of errors nurses made when they wore bright orange vests that told colleagues not to interrupt them.

Like the nurses in the study, you can reduce the number of interruptions while working by placing a “Do Not Interrupt” sign somewhere visible on your desk. It can also read something like, “I need to focus right now, but please come back later.”

This is a simple way to let coworkers know that you don’t want to be interrupted. It’s great because it sends an unambiguous message in a way that wearing headphones can’t.

Conclusion

We know how distraction wastes our energy and concentration restores it. Thus, one must effectively work to fewer or limit their attention to things that don’t matter for better work results.

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One Comment

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