“It’s only by saying “No” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
– Steve Jobs
Daily distractions seem to come in infinite forms nowadays. More and more, the average working individual is spending their time looking from one screen to another. The very tools that are required for business and communication (personal computers, smart phones, etc.) are the same devices that can lead to unproductive habits that are harmful for that very business they are trying to conduct. It’s not enough anymore to simply identify technology and other things as means for potential distractions. In the modern era, every leader and working person should regularly evaluate their daily distractions and have actionable plans in which to combat them.
Most modern smartphones have built-in screen time tracking applications. These apps can show you not only the total time you spend looking at your phone every day, but also the time per application (and overall percentages) of your various apps. This can take the whole “I’m just using my phone for work” excuse out of the picture because it can reveal how much time you may be spending on social media or other non-work-related apps. Having data like this can put you in a better position to identify and eliminate distractions that may have been unknown to you previously.
Understanding your smartphone usage shouldn’t be the end point in exploring how to eliminate distractions. It can be most effective to consider of all the devices or other distractions you recognize during the day. Recognizing you spend half an hour on Facebook isn’t a huge deal, but when you put it in perspective with all the other things you could be potentially wasting time with, that 30 minutes combines with hours of unproductivity spread across small bursts of other time wasters.
It’s important to not initially take a drastic approach when taking care of distractions. Trying to eliminate everything at once can be unsustainable and ultimately cause too much mental stress. But recognizing minor changes you can make to improve productivity, whether it’s deleting certain apps during the workday, or installing web tools that put a cap on certain time-wasting sites, can go a long way in increasing your efficiency. Whatever your methods may be to home in on your duties as a leader, never get complacent, and always be looking for ways to improve your day to day and beyond.
Kelly D. Scott
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization