Why is it so Difficult to Get Our Teams to Maintain Focus?
By: Randy Wolken President & CEO
Why is it so difficult to get our teams to maintain focus? We are in the “age of distraction.” There is a downside to always being available and “on” 24/7. Our mind begins to actually crave the constant stimulation. Studies have shown we are actually changing the way our brains work when we are constantly reacting to the stimuli of our electronic devices and our fast-paced world. Our capacity to do sustained and deep work has diminished – and we must practice it to place it back into our skillset.
Interruptions have become the norm. If we are not careful, we will be constantly interrupted throughout our day. Email, texts, calls, people stopping by, meetings, and electronic notifications of all types can constantly use our time. They also sap our ability to spend a concentrated and focused effort on our most meaningful tasks and projects. At MACNY, we call it the “whirlwind.” It is what makes up so much of a day – if we are not intentional about important work.
Have you ever gotten to the end of the day and asked yourself what has happened to it? I know I have. Entire weeks can get away from us when our efforts are distracted. Having a plan to deal with your distractions – and that of your team’s – is the key to being in control of your priorities. As our world becomes more sophisticated – so must we. What can be some useful tools?
Do you measure what gets done? It is amazing how important measurement is to getting the important things done. When I go into manufacturing members’ facilities I see entire walls or boards that measure all aspects of their business. They are quick to tell me – “what gets measured – gets done.” Use measurements with your team and they will know what counts. Ever been to a sporting event without a scoreboard? Pretty rare, right? The entire experience changes when the “event” has a scoreboard. Use one for yourself – and your team.
Use deadlines – for everything that is important. Important but not urgent rarely gets attention- make it urgent with a deadline. And, talk about what is important to get done. People listen to what is important and talked about. It helps them focus on what they should be working on when they get distracted – like we all do.
Set aside deep work times. It’s easy to get distracted unless we become intentional about time of concentrated, focused, and deep work periods. Shut off the notifications, refuse to check emails, don’t answer the phone, and let people know you are unavailable. Periods of 30 minutes to one hour have been found to be ideal periods of time to get deep and meaningful work done each day. Experiment with your schedule to find out what works for you. Then, set them aside each day.
Measurement, deadlines, and intentional deep work periods are just a few tools necessary to combat our distraction-full world we now live in. It is more important than ever to have a game plan for thriving. When we do, we can be intentional about success and living a life of meaning.