Strategies to Reduce and Overcome Distractions.

It’s easy getting distracted and rolling away from what’s important at the moment. As an entrepreneur, you will notice that you are constantly distracted. Sometimes you are able to get back on track but other times, you struggle through the way and end up not getting back to your original task.

Distractions reduce your efficiency and productivity and finding effective strategies to reduce them and overcome them is the only way out.

It might be social media, the emails that keep popping up every few minutes, or unimportant calls during the day from friends or family. On the other hand, it might be something important such as an emergency meeting to deal with a crisis. All these are distractions that pull you away from the tasks at hand and take you a long time to get back to the tasks. This interferes with your concentration, your work-flow, and makes you take longer to get tasks done.

Gloria Mark, an informatics professor at the University of California says it takes around 23 minutes for a worker to get back to the original task once thrown off track.  

Anna Johansson writes on Entrepreneur that there are several reasons entrepreneurs are susceptible to regular distractions.

The mind

The mind of an entrepreneur is prone to wandering almost all the time. Wandering from one problem to a solution, from one idea to another and so many thoughts run through their mind throughout the day. You can’t blame yourself for this, you are an entrepreneur. Experts say entrepreneurs are thinkers and innovators always thinking of the next big thing they can do for their business.

And, being forced to deal with different issues, entrepreneurs tend to think about different things at the same time. They tend to multitask throughout the day and jump from one thing to another.

Busy surroundings

Most business environments are busy and it’s difficult for anyone to fully concentrate in a busy environment without being interrupted for a good reason or a senseless reason.

You will notice that there is always a lot to do in your business location and so many things to attend to. With so many things to be attended to, you are always forced to juggle between different duties.

Many people – your staff, customers, partners, etc. are frequently in need of your assistance and it’s hard to ignore them most of the time.

Tech Gadgets

Gadgets such as smartphones and computers are a great help when it comes to getting things done during the day. However, the same way these gadgets help is the same way they are likely going to distract you from your tasks.

Frequent notifications on your phone and your computer’s screen of emails, messages, etc. can pull you away from the important task at hand.

This is how to overcome distractions and regain your focus:

1.Prioritize your tasks for the day – primary and secondary priorities.

This is a great tactic to reduce and overcome distractions. When you know what’s there to be done urgently the chances of you staying on course are very high.

As an entrepreneur, you probably have a ‘thousand’ things you need to do. These tasks can seem overwhelming if you don’t categorize them according to urgency. Your mind will keep jumping from one task to another and regarding all these tasks as the top priority.

Therefore, take some time a day before or earlier that day to decide what is of primary priority (a task that is very urgent and cannot wait), and what is of secondary priority (a task that can wait).

2.Be in a distraction-free mode.

Think of preparing your mind and your mind to just focus and get work done – workflow mode. This is a habit you have to develop and will not happen in one day. So you might want to be a little bit patient with your mind and yourself.

You are probably easily distracted by the computer and find yourself jumping from one web page to another doing things not related to work. You need to control your internet use. In this case, you might need to consider using a website blocker.

Develop a habit of putting your phone on silent, or turning off your phone once it’s time to work. Another option is putting your phone away completely during your work period so you don’t pick it easily.  

A good tactic to prevent people from interrupting you while you work is closing your door. If your office is an open layout, get a nice and quiet place around where you can easily focus and get work done.

If your surrounding is always busy and noisy, invest in noise-canceling headphones to block the noise.

3.Consider disconnecting occasionally.

In line with being in a distraction-free mode, consider disconnecting yourself and just focus on work.

Have specific times on specific days when you totally disconnect yourself from external factors – people, etc.

Make your staff aware of these days and times and know you are unavailable. Have specific times meant for meetings, appointments, consultations, etc. and make your staff, partners, etc. aware of these days.

4.Don’t multitask.

The streets say you cannot be a master of two.

It’s totally understandable that you have so many responsibilities as a business owner and a hundred things to get done. Thus, it’s very easy to find yourself handling 2 different tasks at the same time as you run against the time. However, your mind cannot give full attention to 2 or more tasks at the same time.

So, try as much to do one thing at a time. When you focus a hundred percent on that task, you do the task the best. This requires high levels of discipline, especially at the beginning but with time, it becomes a habit.

5.Work in short time frames (time blocks).

When you set yourself to work in short time frames, you are setting a deadline for yourself. With a set deadline, you focus to get the task at hand before the clock hits and it’s easier for you to avoid getting distracted.

On the other hand, when you are working with the idea of ‘I have the whole day ahead of me to finish my tasks’, you are not going to feel the pressure. Without knowing it, you have spent 3 or 4 hours on YouTube, or on your scrolling through Instagram and nothing much to show at the end of the day.

Once you know your primary and secondary priorities, divide these tasks into different short time frames. This way, you will avoid any distraction that comes up because you have a deadline to beat.

Another way to set yourself up to get your work done is by promising your clients the time and day when you will submit your work. Whether it’s a draft, a report, or a proposal. No one wants to disappoint their clients or themselves either.

6.Observe your mind and your thoughts – notice when your mind is wandering.

Your mind is likely going to wander and that‘s the nature of the mind.

A study by Harvard shows that people spend almost 50% of their time thinking about something else other than what they are supposed to be working on. However, you need to learn how to control your mind, and your thoughts in order to concentrate on the task at hand and be productive.

Be aware of your thoughts so that you can notice when your mind starts to wander to something else. You will be able to bring your mind back to the present task that needs to be completed and not give the distractive thought power.  

7.Control your stress.

Experts say that stress interferes with our ability to focus. Thus, it’s easy to give in to distractions when you are under stress.

When you put yourself under the pressure to work when feeling overwhelmed, you will strain to get your work done. Hence, you are likely going to get distracted by anything very fast.

You are also likely going to spend a lot of time thinking about whatever is stressing you than on whatever is at your desk.

Once you learn to control your stress, you will easily regroup yourself and regain your focus and concentration.

Final Thoughts…

Don’t spend your time attending to pointless interruptions that will cost you time trying to get back on track.

Take control of your mind, and anything in your environment that serves as a disruption.

These distractions are avoidable and overcoming them will help you take control of your time and your attention.