It’s no secret. Today’s society is facing distraction at every turn. There are books about it and diagnoses for it, and yet it is still on an exponential rise.
People who used to be avid readers find it hard to read for more than just a few short minutes at a time. Focus work – the kind that takes place in 90-minute to 2-hour increments – is a challenge.
Distraction is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.”
So, the bottom-line question should be, “What are the distractions?”
And the evidence mounts.
- Swift changes in technology and always-on devices
- Marketing that is geared toward speed, visibility across all avenues, and capturing attention from every conceivable angle
- Gaming with fast-moving scenes, transitions, immediate rewards, bright colors, and shiny objects
- 24/7 TV that tries to match pace and expand its horizons in order to compete for attention
- A global pandemic and its after-effects
- Social media, instant messaging, live chat
- Personal life events and changes to daily schedules
- Work that expands well beyond the normal 40-hour workweek
- Market volatility
- Current events
People are bombarded with these distractors, not just one at a time, but by almost all of them on a daily basis. Every single day.
Is it any wonder that the simple act of being present enough to pay attention is a momentous challenge?
As a leader in business, you are seeking focus from a team that is, by the design of society, “distracted.”
Signs of distraction in the workplace abound.
- Team members (or even the leaders themselves) checking their phones while in the middle of meetings or conversations or while operating machinery
- Lack of clear communication
- Not taking the time to explain what is needed
- Not taking the time to document procedures
- High turnover rates
- Apathy for the company’s clients or customers
- Inability to focus long enough to complete projects
- Frequent starts and few finishes
- Lack of attention to detail
How can you help yourself, your team, and your company regain focus in a distracted world?
Limit distractions to the degree possible.
Be very purposeful about setting boundaries for yourself or together with your team around the use of phones, meeting times, number of projects, and overall time expectations.
Allow your team to turn off chat in order to create capacity for focus work. They may only be able to accommodate 30 minutes the first time, but the goal should be to work toward creating 90-minute buckets of focus times within each day.
Consider outside demands.
Part of the distraction comes from demands with regard to family responsibilities. Your team members may have small children to care for, or they may be caretakers for adult family members – or both. Between school changes of recent years and medical appointments, these present a real challenge for working adults in a “sandwich generation.”
Could you allow enough flexibility for your “A Players” to juggle the other parts of their lives that are very important to them?
Create environments that set your people up for success.
Each personality works best in environments that fit them. For example, a C-wired person will need a quiet space in order to do their deep thinking. An I-wired person will need a more active, engaging, and creative space to do their best work. A D-wired person needs direct access to resources and people. And an S-wired person needs a place of order.
While there has always been debate about the best office configuration, the solution is not one way, but all these ways. Creating an environment that suits each type of team member not only helps the organization; it helps the team member begin to be able to focus in an otherwise distracted world.
Change the pace.
In times like we have seen in recent years, there is a need to create an “opposite” space to offset the frenzy. This is, in large part, the reason many didn’t want to return to “business as usual” post-pandemic. They had been able to change the pace for a time and realized they didn’t want to change it back.
In a world of pressure in recent years, a high-pressure workplace only adds to the stress. Are there areas where you can actually accomplish more or increase profitability by doing less and not more? These are things to consider for the sake of your team and of your company. Tighter focus for higher profit.
What other ways can you help yourself and your team deal with distractions?
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer, and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, and using the Maxwell Method, Deb helps leaders and teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results