distractionsDo you find that distractions are keeping you form accomplishing the necessary tasks that you need to get done in your business day? Don’t despair — you can learn how to bring these roadblocks under control.

In today’s connected business world, distraction is par for the course. It can be external (ringing phones, talkative colleagues), internal (that urge to check your email or social-media account) or—the most insidious of all—emotional, such as worry, anger or frustration about things that are beyond your control. Distractions can’t be completely eliminated, but they can be managed. Here are a few techniques you can employ to help you focus on the task at hand.

1. Understand Your Priorities. One of management guru Stephen Covey’s most lasting contributions was the time-management matrix, in which each task or goal finds its place along two axes: importance and urgency. Items that are important and urgent must be taken care of immediately, while items of high importance but low urgency—such as long-term goals—are perfect for “set-aside” blocks on your daily or weekly schedule. Issues that fall under “urgent but unimportant” are rarely more than distractions that can (and should) be delegated to others or excised altogether.

2. Take Command of Your Schedule. Once you understand your priorities, you can set aside time to accomplish what needs to be done. Block out segments of your schedule for yourself so that others can’t co-opt your time. If noise or interruptions are issues, send your calls to voicemail and turn on your email’s out-of-office auto-reply. Have an office? Shut the door, and let your colleagues know you’re currently unavailable.

3. Break Down Big Tasks. If you give yourself broad, ill-defined tasks such as “prepare report” or “find ways to boost profitability,” you’re making yourself especially vulnerable to distraction. Help yourself by breaking down these tasks into short, concrete steps. How short? Ideally, steps that can be accomplished in ten minutes or less, such as writing an email or making a phone call.

4. Distract Yourself Intentionally. Intense focus is a limited resource. If you feel your attention wandering during an important task, take a break to recharge. Stretch, go for a walk or even tackle some of those routine tasks that don’t require a lot of brainpower but need to be done. You’ll feel fresher than if you spent the time staring at a blank computer screen.

If you’d like to know more about eliminating the distractions in your business day, please contact us. For more information, you can find us by visiting our website at We can help you to analyze where your time is being spent each day and help you to work more efficiently.

Source: PNC, Business Insights, November, 2014.