2. What is the Reality?

Okay, in Focus @ Work Part 1 we had our heads in the clouds and talked about the ideal, lets take a look at reality.

re·al·i·ty [ree-al-i-tee]

1. resemblance to what is real.

2. a real thing or fact.

3. real things, facts, or events taken as a whole; state of affairs.

What is probably really happening in your day, if it at all resembles mine, is a constant barrage of distractions. Many of them important interruptions, some of them just pestering issues that arise at the least opportune time. We can’t always make these disappear, but can learn to manage them.

In learning to manage distractions, it’s helpful to objectively identify what’s distracting you at work. Ask yourself: what’s getting in the way of you sitting down for uninterrupted periods of time and cranking out the work you know you need to get done each day? Don’t hold anything sacrosanct. Put anything and everything on the table, be brave and willing enough to label it as a distraction.

Chances are the distractions that are preventing you from focusing include some of the following:

Email: many distractions come in the form of an always open inbox. Generally, those working on a computer will have their email open on a browser tab the entire day- meaning, every time a new email comes in, they can see it. Creating the perfect opportunity to be pulled away from what they are currently doing. An email can make smoke feel like a fire and a fire like the end of the world. A constant, unrestricted flow of email is one of the biggest distractions at the office.

Phone: a smartphone in your pocket or sitting on your desk is another way to invite distractions. When it rings, vibrates or buzzes we feel compelled to find out what concerns await us on the other side of the connection.

Family: often those we love reach out to us during the day, via email, text or a call. We love them so we engage. Personal matters and concerns are now delivered right into the middle or our work-day.

Internet: social media, online videos, links getting passed around the office offer up a smorgasbord of distraction.

Boredom: the little voice in our head that tells us what we’re working on is hard, or that we can’t do it, or that we can’t do it right now. We get fidgety and almost want to be distracted from the hard work and concentration required for the task at hand. Admit it, often we want our attention to be averted from the boring work in front of us.

Walk-Ins: people that walk up to your desk or office to ask you a question or bring up a fire that they need you to put out. They may be a employee, a co-worker or your boss.

While reading the list above, each and every person reading this is saying to themselves, “Yes, that can distract me, but it’s part of my job, stupid. Part of what I’ve got to do to keep on top of my responsibilities and to keep the people around me happy.”

I absolutely agree.

These interruptions probably do make up a large part of what you’ve got to do. I’m not recommending that we tell our significant other, or boss, to quit talking to us, ever. I only recommend that you label them as a distraction. In relation to that work you have to do as an individual – they distract you away from it. Label it in your mind as a distraction and then you can look at ways of managing, minimizing or redirecting these distractions to the other half of your day.

So, how do we battle against these distractions without being a recluse or a obnoxious jerk? We’ll get there in Part 3.