What type of major distraction do you struggle with most often at work, and how do you overcome it?
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As the CEO of a company, everyone is trying to reach you, so I’m constantly getting notifications on my phone, laptop, Apple watch, etc. Sometimes the best thing to do is to block off some time to mute your notifications. You can turn on your “Do Not Disturb” mode, especially when you’re trying to get work done. If there is something urgent, advise everyone to give you a call instead.
2. ‘Quick-Chat’ Meetings
I love having an open-door policy as a CEO, but I often get pulled into a lot of little conversations on topics that I trust my managers to solve on their own. These side conversations and “can you chat real quick” meetings really add up! Although I believe strongly in “servant leadership” and being there for my team, blocking purposeful time on my calendar for “heads-down work” is a lifesaver.
3. Open-Office Environment
Open offices can be good for culture, transparency and communication, but they’re not always conducive to being heads-down. Noise canceling, over-ear headphones are among my most prized office possessions.
Hunger has become a noticeable source of distraction for me at work. Incidentally, while candy bars and cola worked temporarily, they did little to sustain me for prolonged periods. Now, every time I feel hungry at work, I make it a point to avoid sugars and unhealthy fats. Instead, I turn to fruits, nuts and seeds of different kinds. With the right kind of nutrition, I can keep going all day.
5. Putting Out Fires
I could spend all day dealing with the day-to-day challenges that arise in every business. But if I did, I would have no time to focus on strategy and the bigger picture. I solve this problem in two ways. First, I hire people I can trust to solve problems without constant supervision. Second, I set aside a few hours every week to plan and re-examine our processes.
Whether it has to do with the weather, spending too much time at the gym, or staring at a computer screen for hours every day, migraine headaches have started to become a major workplace distraction for me. When I know a migraine is coming, I’ll take some Ibuprofen and try to get as much work done as possible before the pain sets in. Then, I shutter all the windows and rest my eyes for an hour.
As an entrepreneur, I get hundreds of emails a day, so it makes it difficult to concentrate at times. To eliminate email distractions, I close out my email accounts for most of the day, and respond to the most important ones once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. If there’s an urgent matter, then that person can call or text me.
8. Social Media
I’m always looking out for feedback from customers, especially reviews on social media. I spend so much time online looking for reviews about my company. The method that works for me is turning off the auto-login on my accounts, so I can catch myself when I check Facebook and other social sites. If I have a task that doesn’t need the internet, I close all web-related browser tabs.
9. People Needing ‘Two Minutes’
People in general can be distracting! Partners, employees, clients, referral partners and anyone needing your time when you aren’t expecting it. If someone says they want two minutes of your time, it is almost never two minutes! If I don’t have time to meet with someone for 10-15 minutes right on the spot, I usually have them schedule a time with me.
10. Marketing Calls From Overseas
We are an IT company and I get around 10 calls a day from marketing companies, trying to sell their services. Initially, it bothered me a lot, as I could not tell where the call was coming from. I resolved the issue by setting up Caller ID on my phone, and any overseas calls or marketing calls are labeled as “Unknown.” A $5 monthly subscription to Caller ID saved me lot of hassle, it is worth it.
11. Getting Antsy
When I am in the office for long hours, I get antsy. I need to move around. I can feel my body tensing up or needing to stretch. Now, I try to exercise before I come into the office, and even then I schedule a walk or two during my day. And if it’s raining, then some meditation and stretches in the office. Sometimes I’ll even get the team involved. It’s good for everyone.