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4 Distraction Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

4 Distraction Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them


    Are you doing a task but without a 100% focus on it? Then later you realize that you have to go back to that task and fix the work because you were unfocused?

    If you are experiencing this, you have wasted your time and you are bringing unnecessary stress upon yourself. What is distracting you? Why do you tend to focus less than 100% on your task when you take action?

    Here are few reasons:

    1. You are tired.

    Working tired is perhaps something we are all guilty of – yet we do a task, thinking that we can perform it as well as if we were alert. Unfortunately this is not true.

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    Previously I have been guilty of this too; I began working tired and then the next day I had to go back and fix things, because I was not focusing enough initially.

    Fortunately, I have learned from those mistakes and I now understand to quit working if I’m too tired to concentrate.

    Some of the great ways to fix your tiredness is to:

    • Take powernaps (20 minutes max)
    • Make sure that you get enough sleep (this depends of the person)
    • Make sure your bedroom is dark and chilly enough
    • Exercise regularly (but not immediately before going to sleep)
    • Avoid eating heavy meals a few hours before going to bed

    2. You are not motivated to do the task.

    Another cause for distraction is that you are not motivated to do the task in the first place.  Your mind wanders and you are not producing the best work quality that you are capable of.

    If you are not motivated, you have to figure out why you are doing the task in the first place:

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    • If that task belongs to your job, then you just have to deal with it since it’s part of the work. On the other hand, you can always discuss the situation with your boss – maybe you two will be able to come up with a solution for your issue.
    • If the task is set by the law (like reporting your taxes to authorities), then there is nothing you can do about it – you just have to do the task even if you don’t like it (making sure to do it sooner than later).
    • If the mundane work belongs to your personal project, you might consider outsourcing it for someone else, automating it or even questioning yourself: “Is this task really necessary?”
    • Finally, if you have no justification for the task and it is not mandatory to do – then why are you doing it at all?

    3. You are distracted both physically and mentally.

    Distraction exists on many levels and it’s one of the biggest reasons for underperforming in your work.

    Not only is electronic distraction (e-mails, social media or Internet in general) ruining your work focus, it is also the physical and mental distraction that’s causing you to work with partial focus and achieve partial results.

    First, you should find a place where you can fully focus on your task. This could be a library, coffee shop or out in the park.  Also, make sure you have all the electronic distractions like e-mail, cell phone or instant messaging turned off.

    Second, if it’s your mind that’s causing you to underperform, make sure that you are fully rested, you are not hungry when you work and that you are not going through any type of emotional rollercoaster.

    The fact is that all of these can increase your distraction level thus decreasing the chance of optimum output.

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    4. You don’t know how to do it.

    There is nothing more frustrating than trying to work on a task, but you don’t have a clue how to do it. If your skills are not enough for the task, then you are going to face a rough times trying to complete it while keeping your deadlines.

    In a situation like this, you can reach out to other people.

    In a day job situation, let the project manager or your boss know about the situation and have a chat together to figure out what to do (do you need mentoring or other colleagues to help you out?).

    If this is your personal project or hobby we are talking about, you have to be willing to ask for help. I bet there are many people out there who have encountered a similar situation like you before.

    Simply by asking, you can solve many frustrations and produce quality work.

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    Be “almost perfect”

    When you decide to work on a task, make sure that the conditions surrounding you are as enjoyable and relaxing as possible (see the steps a-d above).

    It is important to be “as perfect as possible.” In other words, whenever you perform a task, execute it with 100% commitment and focus. This means that you are doing the best you can with your current conditions and skillset.

    Instead of aiming for perfection when executing your work steps, try to have perfect focus instead. This ensures that you produce quality work with the least amount of wasted time and energy.

    Conclusion

    It is important to realize that working with less than 100% focus is an inefficient way to complete tasks. In the worst case, you have to go back and fix errors – something that could have been avoided if you were focused from the get-go.

    When you work on your task, make sure that the environment supports your productivity. This means cutting the online connections for a while, and if necessary, moving to a separate physical location while you work.

    Finally, having a calm, rested mind is also a great way to tackle mental distraction. To increase your chances even more for great results, make sure you body is fed properly before you start working.

    (Photo credit: Bored Young Businessman via Shutterstock)

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    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2019

    How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

    How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

    Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

    Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

    But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

    To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

    What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

    You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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    You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

    If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

    1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

    Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

    Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

    While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

    2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

    It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

    “While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

    In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

    Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

    3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

    Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

    For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

    4. Good leaders are students.

    In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

    I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

    Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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    As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

    5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

    It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

    “As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

    This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

    6. Good leaders understand themselves.

    I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

    Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

    Final Thoughts

    Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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    Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

    After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

    Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

    If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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    Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
    [2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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