Distracted Easily? Try This.

Wired For Distraction

A news headline on your computer screen. Your own thoughts. The buzz of your cell phone. In today’s world, we are bombarded and if you are prone to distraction by nature, learning how to manage this is critical. First though, acknowledge the upside of how you are wired¹. When I suggested this to Sharon, a sales professional and client, she was relieved. Rather than feel badly for being susceptible to distractions, she identified that her strength is that she is spontaneous and flexible. Her opportunity now is to harness this so that she can be more focused and productive.

photo of parking lot signOne strategy we selected for Sharon is to adopt a technique that many meeting facilitators use to manage group discussions. When someone in the group brings up an issue that is off-topic or out of scope, they write it on a flip chart known as the parking lot. In this way, valuable contributions aren’t lost, people feel heard, and the meeting keeps on track. Likewise, you can facilitate yourself with this same technique. As distracting thoughts arise, jot them down in your own parking lot². You can look at them later and decide if, when, and how to address those items.

When You Are The Distraction

My client, Daniel, noticed he seemed to be looking for distractions. When you find yourself doing this too often, a more productive response than berating yourself is to gently ask yourself what’s going on in those moments. It may be an indication to check that the task at hand aligns with your goals, to confirm the “line of sight” and reaffirm your purpose. There may also be an adjustment you can make to your work environment or to your schedule that would make concentration easier to come by.

Put it in the Parking Lot

photo of parking lotThis Week: When distractions arise —self-made or unsolicited— facilitate yourself.

  • Use the parking lot technique for yourself and when leading groups.
  • Identify enhancements to make to your work environment.
  • Block off some time in your schedule for something important to you and honor it.

Harness your ability to focus and watch the results pay off.

Here's to you,
Ginny Kravitz's signature

¹When are distractions a good thing? For another take on this issue, read: Get Distracted.

²You can print and use this parking lot for any distracting thoughts that arise when you are working.

© 2009, Virginia M. Kravitz and In the Current®. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided it is without any alteration, includes the copyright above, and if distributing electronically includes a link to www.inthecurrent.com.

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