Focus and Distractions with Stever Robbins
Whether you are a business leader, a business owner, a professional info worker, a solopreneur, or even a stay-at-home parent, we are constantly faced with the need to focus and the reality of distractions. I know I am. Are you?
But what is "focus?" Here is how Stever Robbins, author of The Get-It-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More, and renowned productivity podcaster (over 11 million downloads at the time of this writing), defines it:
As to distractions…
"We have created a culture whereas we have elevated distractions and interruptions to the level of most desirable."
Distractions are the opposite of focus. They manifest themselves in our switch-tasking from item to item to item. Research over research has shown how switch-tasking (or "multi-tasking") causes us (mainly our brains) to stop functioning well. Not only does it make us do poorly on each and every task we are switching from and to, but it makes us end up doing poorly all the time, on everything.
The result: we waste an average of 28% of our time, due to our substantially reduced productivity.
So how do we re-establish focus and eliminate unnecessary distractions?
One part of the solution many productivity experts suggest is organizing your activity along sequential "bursts of focus." Sometimes, these bursts are short (even as short as 5 minutes): this is what Stever calls "speed-dating your tasks." The trick is to be "100% there" during each and every one of these periods of focus.
Another part is organizing our (physical and digital) space in such a way that it does not automatically create distractions. Yet most of us create and then live in environments that are "completely customized for distractions." Just think of the typical arrangement of an info worker in a cubicle around many other people with a telephone ready to ring at any time, an instant messaging program chiming every time a text comes through, a browser window with tens of tabs open, a mobile phone constantly telling us that we received yet another SMS from a friend, and the list goes on and on.
Yet another part of the solution is training ourselves to … and this may surprise you … say "no." We constantly find ourselves committing to tasks that make no sense, that do not further our goals, and that are simply distractions. We say "yes" not only to others, but also to ourselves. Practicing the art of saying "no" (again, to both others and ourselves) is a crucial component to staying focused.
I recently produced and hosted a tele-webinar with Stever Robbins where I "grilled" him on the why, what, and how of working less and doing more.
Here is a 9-minute audio sampler from this program, focused (pun intended!) on focus and distractions:
Once you listened to the 60-minute program in a focused way (yes, try this one time to eliminate ALL distractions for 60 minutes), please share with us your thoughts, impressions, comments, and questions in the Comment Box below. Thank you.