Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dealing With Daily Distractions

We all are exposed to daily distractions that can suck valuable time away from what we need to focus on. I’m sure many of you have laid out your goals this year and may have even thought of how you are going to make the most of your time so that you cannot only be productive, but successful.

Following, I have provided a few tips on how to handle what distracts us the most and how you can make the most of your day.

Social Media
Since its inception, social media has grown to provide us with information on everything and everyone under the sun. While social media provides the ability to stay connected to family, friends, and the world, it can be a huge distraction if we are not mindful of how we use it and for how long. You can have intentions of spending just a few minutes checking your social media accounts and before you know it, two hours have passed, leaving you questioning where did the time go and nothing on your to do list completed.

The best way to handle social media is to schedule it and adhere to that schedule. What I find works for me is setting aside an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon or evenings for social media engagement. Split your hour across your social media accounts and let that be it. What you did not get to post or comment on can wait until your next scheduled hour. What’s even better is if you didn't get to post something, you have the option to schedule your posts. With the exception of Instagram, Facebook (pages only) and applications like Hootesuite will allow you to schedule a time for your posts to be released. When I use the scheduling option, it allows more time to focus on the items on my to do list. If I choose to schedule my posts, I schedule them early in the morning or the night before. This is especially helpful if you maintain more than one social media account.

Another distraction about social media - comments.  If you make one or if someone makes one in response to you, that can create an ongoing dialogue that can only end of one does not continue to respond. The best way to handle comments - keep it short, sweet, simple, and moving. When you see that you are spending more time than you have allowed yourself on commenting, that’s your notification to wrap it up and move on.

Text Messages
Text messages and group chats have replaced picking up the phone to have a conversation for many and this can be time consuming if you receive text messages throughout your day that you feel that you have to reply to. My suggestion - if it isn’t coming from your boss, business partner or someone along those lines and it’s not business related, it can wait. In the case of an emergency, if it’s truly an emergency, they will pick up the phone to call instead of sending a text message. So ask yourself how much of an emergency can it be?

I know several people who will not answer text messages during the workday because they are and can be a distraction. If it’s not of great importance, wait until your lunch break or the end of your day to reply. The two to five minutes you spend having a conversation via text messaging is the two to five minutes you could have used to send that email to a prospective client.

Phone Calls
You are sitting at your desk, momentum at high speed, and your work is getting done. You’re in the zone and feeling pretty accomplished and excited that your to do list is over 50% complete. That is until your phone rings and you pick it up only to be sucked into a conversation about how disgusted your best friend feels that they were not able to fit into the designer jacket they purchased last month.

I encourage you to answer your phone. If you see it ringing, pick it up (unless it’s someone you really do not want to communicate with) because it could be important or an emergency. But after the first five minutes of a conversation, you can pretty much tell how important it is and at that point it is up to you to decide if you are willing to have a conversation that can wait or get back to work and end your day on a high note.

I have found myself several times spending an hour and half to two hours on a phone call that wasn’t important, only to realize that once I got off the phone my momentum was gone. It’s hard to get that flow back once it’s been depleted by a conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with the work on your desk.

Don’t get sucked in. You have to take control of the conversation. Let them know you were in the middle of something and if it’s alright for you to call them back. Nine times out of ten, they will say yes, because it really wasn’t all that important to begin with.

I hope these suggestions help with managing your time as it relates to social media, responding to text messages, and handling phone calls. We each are blessed with 24 hours in a day and how we manage and make the most of that time depends on how much we value that time. Be mindful, make wise decisions, and before long your days will flow smoothly with little to no distractions.

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