By any measure, we spend about half of our time thinking about something other than what we’re supposed to be doing. At work, this can be especially lethal to our projects and, along with them, our job satisfaction and success. Yet few people understand the degree to which routine diversions impact our performance. In fact, how many of us consider interruptions and distractions as just part of the job? But they aren’t, nor should they be, particularly when our precious projects are on the line. To start, let’s differentiate between interruptions, or externally driven diversions, and distractions, or internally driven diversions.
Of the two, interruptions tend to be harder to deal with because they usually involve other living beings — say, a meddling micromanager, a chatty coworker, or even a playful pup. But distractions, particularly in the digital age, can be just as difficult. Who among us hasn’t allowed a ‘quick’ Facebook or email check devolve into 45 minutes we’ll never get back? Though minimizing distractions and interruptions may require different solutions, the solutions themselves share a common thread: They require recognizing the ‘entry point’ and then uncovering how to counter it. By focusing on entry points, we can actually prevent distractions and interruptions rather than just react to them. After all, once we’re diverted, we lose valuable momentum and oftentimes the will to recover it.
So, whether interruptions or diversions, here are nine ways to deal with project diversions — and do your best work.Joining us for our discussion Building Your Focus is Charlie Gilkey who is calling in from his Portland Oregon office. Charlie Gilkey is an author, entrepreneur, philosopher, Army veteran, and renowned productivity expert. Founder of Productive Flourishing, Gilkey helps professional creatives, leaders, and changemakers take meaningful action on work that matters. His latest is Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done Welcome to Mastering Your Money, is Charlie Gilkey.