Taming the distraction llama

To get things done!

How many times a day do you find yourself being distracted from what you’re doing? I was distracted twice just typing this first sentence.

In his book, Hyperfocus, Chris Bailey talks about how long we can maintain focus when sitting in front of a computer – just 40 seconds. Doesn’t sound right does it! But when you start to take notice of how you work it’s really quite surprising. Apparently, at around 40 seconds, if we haven’t already been interrupted, we create our own distractions.

My sister calls these “distraction llama’s”…cute little things that give your brain a break and prevent you from getting important work done.

The impact of constant distractions is that it takes longer than necessary to complete tasks, we end up working longer hours and aren’t as productive as we could be. Over time we can develop bad habits around our work practices that lead to working after hours and on weekends. If you’re a people leader, these bad habits can be picked up by your people and impact your teams effectiveness.

So how do you start to tame the “distraction llama”?

  • Plan– work out what tasks require the most amount of attention and plan to get them done first thing in the morning, before the llama wakes up.
  • Intention– be very clear about why you need to do something and take a genuine interest in it. If there’s no real benefit to doing it then don’t, delete it or delegate it and move on!
  • Be proactive– rather than reactive. The more you react to situations the more energy it consumes and the more attractive the “distraction llama” becomes, particularly after 2pm.
  • Location location location– work out the most optimal place to get your work done. For some this could be around a lot of people in a noisy environment and for others it may need to be really quiet with no people. And sometimes it depends on the type of task you’re completing – so get to know what works best in different scenarios.
  • Alerts and notifications– these are the biggest distractions we face. If something is really urgent people will call you, so turn off all your notifications – both sound and visual. Get into the habit of only checking your emails and messages just once every hour (or longer if you can get away with it).
  • Deadlines– give yourself a deadline or a timeframe to complete tasks in. For some, this will be enough to create a sense of urgency to remain focused.
  • Interest – do work you love. It’s so much harder to be distracted when you genuinely love what you do. If you don’t love what you do most of the time then perhaps it’s time for a change!

No matter what your “distraction llama” is, it’s likely to need some taming so notice your triggers and find what works best for you.

If you’re keen to learn more about taming the “distraction llama” I would highly recommend reading or listening to Hyperfocus.

Need help? Give me a call!

Shelley Flett is a business and leadership trainer & coach who works with businesses to maximise efficiency and build high performance team cultures in organisations of any size.

If you’d like to know more about how she can work with you, and your team, drop her an email shelley@shelleyflett.com.

Comments 2

  1. Yes very good advice Shelley but I was mesmerised and therefore distracted by the spinning door behind you in your video blog.

    Love your work.

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