Create the Physiological Conditions Most Likely to Help You Avoid Distractions
To manage your attention, you must work with nature and with the innate tendencies of our brain to respond to forces like emotion, discomfort, and insecurity.
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How to Manage Those Distractions Right Here, Right Now According to Your Productivity Style
To manage your attention, you must work with nature and with the innate tendencies of our brain to respond to forces like emotion, discomfort, and insecurity. Optimize the physiological conditions and retrain your brain with a brain reboot. Manage your attention and distractions will no longer high jack your time, nor ability to focus.
Quick and Easy Strategies to Implement Now to Manage Your Distractions
If you are a Prioritizer:
+ Cut the tether to technology: leave your cell phone, your laptop, and/or your tablet in your office, your briefcase, or your purse rather than carrying them with you everywhere.
+ Check and respond to email at “low productivity” times. Follow the natural rhythm of your day, and avoid email inbox during those periods when you tend to do your highest quality work.
+ Establish office hours and communicate to your colleagues when you will be available for impromptu questions and meetings leaving other periods of time when you can work without being disturbed.
If you are a Planner:
+ Plan each day around your varying energy levels. Change your patterns in the type of work you do. Remember to include both scheduled and spontaneous interactions with colleagues and friends.
+ Communicate the time(s) you check email with colleagues, managers and direct reports so they will know when – and when not – to expect a prompt response.
+ Include and schedule buffer time in your calendar. You need white space to think, process that meeting you just attended and to take a mental break to recharge.
If you are an Arranger:
+ Pace your work by interspersing solitary work with group projects or conversations with colleagues. The interpersonal interaction will serve as a break and be refreshing, enabling you to more effectively manage your attention and maintain your focus.
+ Designate a personal email free day once a week and on that day, instead of emailing your colleagues, pick up the phone and actually enjoy connecting with them.
+ Institute a personal chat budget. Each day give yourself a designated amount of time for personal chatting. When your colleagues come by chat you can let them know that you are about to exceed your chat budget for the day and will need to keep the conversation short.
If you are a Visualizer:
+ Vary the type of work you do and the amount of time you dedicate to particular projects. Intersperse fun or very stimulating tasks with routine tasks.
+ Turn off the computer screen, keep your email program closed, participate on conference calls while standing – physically remove the visual distractions that make it difficult for you to focus.
+ Use your appreciation of novelty to stimulate you by changing the scenery. Find a conference room on another floor, go to the office cafeteria or a local coffee shop and work there for a few hours.
Being so interconnected is exhausting, says Tate. We have to resist the tendency to treat our overwhelming schedules like badges of honor.
Carson Tate is author of the book Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style. She is creator of the "Working Smarter, Not Harder" and "Harness the Productive Power of Your Brain" productivity systems. Tate holds a BA in psychology from Washington and Lee University, a Masters in Organization Development, and a Coaching Certificate from the McColl School of Business at Queens University.
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