One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us. – Daniel Goleman
As leaders, we have to guard against distractions. We all know things like we can’t drink a fifth of whiskey at night and expect to be sharp the next morning. We can’t eat jelly beans for breakfast and expect our productivity to be strong throughout the day. These seem fairly obvious – or at least I hope they do.
But, more than anyone else, leaders have to manage distractions that disguise themselves as “work.” One of the biggest distractions we all face today are screens: televisions, cell phones, iPads, you name it. Leaders today aren’t just consuming what’s on their screens, we are being consumed by our screens. How many hours each day do you spend responding to email? Or watching the craziness of the 24 hour news cycle? Or checking your Facebook page? The average American checks Facebook 17 times per day, I hope you are not average.
As leaders, we need to help each other find best practices for avoiding distractions and managing our efforts to better achieve the missions we’re called to.
One of the best pieces of advice that I have been given is to have blackout periods. These are intentional times throughout the day that you pop in noise cancelling headphones at the office and switch your phone to airplane mode. Close out of email and turn off notifications that might pop up on your computer. You need to blackout the distractions of the screens.
It seems counterintuitive – don’t we need to be connected to be productive? No. We need to have blackout periods that we use wisely to focus on what is most important. It is so easy to spend your entire day being reactive to emails, calls and texts that you never find time to be proactive and prioritize the work that truly needs to be done.
In a world that’s always “on,” we need to carve out time for ourselves to disconnect. I encourage you to give it a try this week – even if you start small with just 30 minutes a day. I trust you will see the kind of results that helped me improve my own effectiveness, productivity and leadership.
Question: What are your best strategies for managing distractions in your leadership?