Research shows up to 65% of future leaders feel busy all the time. When this happens, productivity starts to suffer, and you can get distracted. The trick is finding easy ways to keep track of these distractions and limit them.
Here I share five common distractions you need to hack to ensure you don’t get diverted.
Distraction #1 Lack of Energy
The flurry of constant activity and the need to be switched on all the time takes a lot of energy—and this is what limits many people from achieving as much as they could. The Huffington Post’s Anne Loehr reported in 2014 that the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute (HPI) found when you’re constantly physically and mentally taxed, your energy drains and your effectiveness diminishes, and you start to lose your edge—just like a professional athlete. To stay productive, you need to take the time to recharge your batteries. This includes managing sleep, diet and exercise to maintain your energy.
Distraction #2 Wrong Mindset and Self Doubt
Too often, self-doubt gets in the way and starts to stall forward progress. This can show up as an inner dialogue guiding you when you’re in your leadership role. If these voices start creating doubt, it’s easy to start second-guessing what needs to be done. This creates a distraction that can take you off track. By gathering feedback from those you trust you can ensure that you keep the right mindset.
Distraction #3 Time Fillers and the Biological Need to Be Busy
We seem to be wired to believe that if we’re not constantly doing something we’re wasting our time. A famous experiment in the 1950’s by James Olds & Peter Milner placed small electrodes in the brains of rats to stimulate the part of the brain that released dopamine whenever the rat pressed a lever. The result was rats becoming addicted to pressing the lever up to 700 times an hour. We as humans have a similar response mechanism to dopamine. We’ve become so highly strung that we need to be busy all the time. And worse still, people get caught on a treadmill where it doesn’t matter what they’re doing if they’re busy at it.
For many of us we need to stop and think about why we are doing something and make sure it is not just to fulfil the need to feel busy.
Distraction #4 Technology and how it Overwhelms
Focusing on what’s important is becoming harder due to the constant barrage of digital information and technological overload. People are being distracted by things that are not relevant or important. It’s estimated that, on average, we have 4000 thoughts per day flying in and out of our minds. This makes it extremely challenging to focus on any one thought for a period before technology introduces another random thought to distract you. Make sure that you control your use of technology and not the other way around.
Distraction #5 Interruptions that Steal Your Time
Interruptions from staff, work colleagues, suppliers, customers and any other area that may distract your flow and use of time slow you down. If you analyse these external distractions, they fall into the common categories of what we can see, what we can hear and what we can touch or more accurately how the surrounding environment can impact us. Keep track of which interruptions are taking your time and develop strategies to limit them.
Regardless of the distraction, identifying ways to reduce interference and increasing your effectiveness by implementing fast track strategies or hacks to accomplish more in less time are important solutions. Often just being aware of the distractions is half the battle.