10 Ways To Keep Your Focus in a World of Distractions

November 13, 2013

Finding a Point by Mel Kadel

  1. Control Your Media – You may love your media, but does it control your concentration, or do you control it? Do you set your notifications so that they only distract you for the most valuable messages, or do your email, Facebook, and Twitter alerts draw your attention away from the most important issues you are trying to accomplish? As I’m writing this post, my only distraction is Mozart’s Four Seasons, which is playing over my Bose sound-canceling headset. What tools or techniques do you use to keep out media distractions?
  2. Break the Tether of  Your Phone – The reason Blackberry got its nickname Crack-berry is the addictive quality that smartphones have today on many of us. If you’re waiting anywhere–at a restaurant, between meetings, at stop light–do you feel a physical need to check your phone? When you’re at dinner with friends or family, do you take out your phone for one quick check and then leave it out? You may convince yourself, like many other addicts, that what you’re doing is necessary and important, but you’re also avoiding important matters and conversations, too. Addicts use their addictions to avoid difficult conversations, emotions, and thoughts. They use their addictions to detach, not connect.
  3. Hire Mr./Ms. Focus – As the president of my own firm that grew from 2 to 2,200 employees, I needed focus. For an entrepreneur, this is often a challenge, and it was for me. It helped having a business partner who was not very distract-able, but I didn’t want to wear him out. So I hired a coach who would keep me on track and constantly bring me back on focus. Today I serve that role for many of my clients. It was tough for me, and it’s tough for my clients, to admit that you are actually going to pay someone because you cannot stay focused. You get over it quickly, though, when you start meeting your deadlines and achieving your big personal and organizational goals.
  4. Build Your Integrity – Giving your word is easy; keeping it is harder. Entrepreneurs are usually extremely capable people, and they believe in their capabilities. That’s why they often give their word, and they mean it at the time. But then they lose focus or get distracted. They justify their distractions by saying things like, “If I had not gone after this particular idea, there would not be a company today.” What they fail to realize is that their role has changed from founder to leader. Leaders need to take keep their word. If they lose their integrity, they may lose their company, too.
  5. Care More about the Outcome – Great leaders believe in something bigger than themselves–an outcome or mission. Distractions from that greater mission is an indulgence that they know they can’t afford. If you find yourself getting distracted, it may be time to revisit or recommit to the outcome or mission you’re trying to achieve.
  6. Have an Intentional Environment – If you walk into Select Comfort headquarters, you will be met by architecture that symbolizes their mission: the carpet, the glass walls, and the smile on the receptionist’s face all speak to the mission-driven company. Being deliberate about your environment can help you keep the focus. MBNA used to have their mission embossed above every door in each conference room. It’s no surprise that meetings there often invited questions about how ideas or practices aligned with the mission.
  7. Make Processes that You Intend to Keep–Your personal integrity is important, but so is process integrity. If you institute a process that you and your team can adhere to, you won’t likely be distracted by the shiny objects that are screaming at you, “Look at me!” If you handle all your e-mails between 6-7 a.m. and 3-4 p.m., for instance, you are likely not to be distracted by emails during the day or evening. As people get to know your routine, they will likely accommodate it. Exit distractions.
  8. Stay Centered – Know what is important by sticking to your values and belief system. Let those guide you, not an electronic signal. And take steps to clear your mind and renew your body. Go for a walk, run, or bike ride. Or meditate.
  9. Run Marathons not Sprints – It can take 20 years to become an overnight success. Because success often takes a long time, it’s easy to downplay the significance of little bits of time–“momentary” distractions. Those momentary distractions pile up, though, and may keep you from achieving your big goals.
  10. Take Adderall  (or Concerta) – It is an amazing drug for those who truly have inattention. It keeps you focused and attentive to those things and people that matter most.


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