In our information-saturated age, even the most diligent CEOs and business leaders can have trouble focusing on one thing at a time. When you lead a business, workplace distractions often prove detrimental to operational efficiency and, in the worst cases, accelerate a decline in overall productivity.
Here are tips to help reduce and/or eliminate time-sapping distractions:
1. Turn off devices and notifications.
Digital distractions are among the most prevalent challenges to confront in a busy workplace. We’re all habituated to constantly checking email, texts, social media, etc., without always realizing how much time is being sacrificed to these activities (and with so little to show for it!). The simplest—and, conversely, perhaps the most difficult—solution is simply switching off your devices for a specified amount of time during the day. The same goes for noisy notifications, alerting you to every message or text coming in.
The plain truth is, except in crisis or other critical situations, it’s not necessary to stay glued to your smartphone, iPad, or other device every working hour of the day. By scheduling a period of time each day for non-digital pursuits, you may be pleasantly surprised by how much other work you get accomplished.
2. Resist the impulse to multitask.
Many business leaders feel confident they can multitask all day long, without any concession to productivity. In fact, many time-management experts contend that a person who multitasks gets less accomplished by continuously switching from one project to another.
As we have noted before, “Identify the truly important task ahead of you and give it your full attention,” resulting in a better ROI for your efforts.
3. Pay closer attention to how your time is spent.
Paying close attention to how you spend your time can help lessen the impact of workplace distractions. TAB Facilitator Phil Spensieri recommends “spending some time at the beginning of each day (approximately 15 minutes) to write down the most important things that you’d like to accomplish.” A to-do list “brings focus to planning for the day,” while also helping set targets for longer-term achievements.
4. Make sure each meeting you attend is worth the time.
Meetings are frequently a huge distraction for chief executives, managers, and employees alike.
To minimize this disruptive activity, it’s wise to ensure that every scheduled meeting has a clear-cut purpose and goal. And, when taking part in a meeting, request that all attendees (yourself included) switch off their devices while the meeting is in session.
“This signals to the other parties involved that you are fully engaged and open to collaborative work,” notes Babbel for Business. Another helpful tip? “If you have difficulties retaining information, ask to record the conversation or use a screen-saving service that automatically records your meetings.” This can help you stay focused during the team discussion.
5. Improve your “powers of delegation.”
Offering to pitch in or respond to every fresh challenge can be an enormous distraction. But if you have hired smart and talented employees, it’s incumbent upon you to say “no” when asked to help with an issue, and instead delegate the responsibility to the appropriate party. You can free up your time by levering your “powers of delegation.” After all, the more tasks others taken on, “the more time you have for keeping your focus just where it should be—on growing the business.”
Some distractions are unfortunately inevitable in the course of doing business these days. But it’s also within your power to minimize these distractions and get more work done.
Want to learn more? Register for our free TAB Boss Webinar, “15 Time Management Rules for Controlling Time Bandits.”