Recently, one of my partners and I were discussing our average workday and the high level of work distractions we experience on a daily basis. The higher in an organization you go, the more sought after your time will be. Managing all of these work distractions in the correct way can be the difference between getting things done and failing as a leader.
If you thought that big corner office would get you out of the cubical section into a more private space, you were sadly mistaken. The truth is, you’ll likely find more work distractions, as the size of your team and influence grows. Your goal should be a perfect balance between providing the input your team needs and tending to the tasks before you.
Learning how to avoid work distractions and get things done will benefit both yourself and your team.
Be Proactive – Find the trigger points before they are hit. For example, an employee needs approval on an invoice before she can process it. Rather than waiting for her to come into your office, thus causing repeated work distractions, set up a system where invoices don’t hit her desk until after they’re approved. This can often mean having your vendors send invoices to the person who approves them and only copying your AP department on the email.
Ignore Fun – When trying to focus, you must attend to the pressing issues. Try removing the emotion from your decisions and choose what you do based on an analytical approach. Doing only those things that are fun almost always guarantees procrastination on tasks that need to be done. Social media, web surfing, and chatting are some of the biggest work distractions I see on a daily basis.
Use a Schedule – Avoid pop-in visits from vendors. Additionally, when you have a task that needs your full attention for any length of time, schedule a meeting with yourself. This way you can close your door and focus without any work distractions. If anyone seeks your help at that time, tell him or her you have a prior commitment and will get back with them when you can.
Document Processes – To avoid future work distractions, document your processes. When team members ask you to show them, teach them, or explain to them how to perform a task, document your response. This gives them a template for future help. I find that time and time again people will come in looking for guidance on the same thing. Don’t give them a fish, teach them to fish.
Be Honest – We’re all busy. Level with your employees and explain why you must take time to focus on your tasks. As long as you’re working on something that benefits the team, it’s fair for you to take time away from work distractions and focus. They’ll understand.
As you move up in the organization you’ll quickly find that your time is in high demand. Work distractions are an every day occurrence. Learning how to mitigate work distractions can help you maintain your sanity and lead your team more efficiently.
What are some of your biggest work distractions?