7 Common Distractions to Avoid

June 29, 2016 by
Eamonn McGuinness

Do you ever find it difficult to focus? Distractions just keep cropping up and you allow your focus to shift?

This can be a major time drain and a hindrance to goal achievement. In order to be successful, you need to set a specific schedule and keep to it as best you can.

We are going to walk you through seven of the most common traps that completely trip up and distract you from a productive schedule, and we are going to give you seven tips to minimize these distractions.


Distractions Trap No. 1: I Am So Connected

Trap: I know it sounds like a blessing that you are always connected via email, social media, text messages, mobile phones but it is also a trap because you can get interrupted by people who want you right now, but this may not be the best thing for you.

Tip: Set aside specific times of the day when you will manage your email, your phone messages, and your social media. Typically, in the hour before lunch and the hour before you leave in the evening for example.

There are advantages to this practice that are probably obvious, but it’s worth noting that your communications will become more effective and enjoyable because you are not snatching at emails quickly.


Distractions Trap No. 2: Email

Trap: It is amazing how much time we lose by managing email poorly.

Tip: Develop a systematic, but simple way, to manage your email. Do not just “do email”. Have a systematic approach to processing your email.


Distractions Trap No. 3: The Random Thought

Trap: It is a real gift to have lots of fabulous ideas. The danger is you drop what you are doing to research and action every idea when it comes,  and then you are all over the place.

Tip: To overcome this trap is to have a simple place to write down these ideas. I, for example, use a combination of Microsoft OneNote and Outlook Tasks. I create a task for action at some time in the future; I then come back to it at that point and deal with the idea in a more relaxed way.


Distractions Trap No. 4: The To-Do list

Trap: We absolutely need the to-do list; it is a vital asset in our time management toolbox.  The trap is making your to-do list your daily work, distracting from larger goals.

Tip: Have a time slot allocated once a day when you get back to your to-do list to pick off a few items.

You can, of course, steal minutes and hours throughout the day where you can get these smaller and often important to-dos’ completed. You call your mother as you drive to work. You finish a chunk of larger work earlier than expected (maybe because you focus on it and it alone!) and you then do a few smaller but important items from your to-do list before you start your next scheduled major item of work.


Distractions Trap No. 5: I Can Multi-Task

Trap: Another big trap … I can multi-task! I bet you can, but I wager when you measure the time taken to do three things at once, it will very often take longer to do than if you did one after the other in sequence and with more focus.

Tip: Pick 30/60/90 even 15 minutes, if that is all it takes, and do one thing and do it really well and do not be stressing yourself trying to do five things at once if you do not have to. No harm to have the multi-tasking skill, but use it when you have to and not as a default, as this can be a real time trap.


Distractions Trap No. 6: Open Office Communication

Trap: BrightWork has a fabulous, wonderfully designed modern open office. This can become a trap when people come up and they think, ‘Oh it is so easy to get to Eamonn’, let me ask him this or that.

Tip: You want to encourage the communication and the collaboration, but you might say to these people, “Jack, I am looking forward to talking to you about this; let me finish what I am doing and I will come back to you later”. Nine times out of ten, this will be just fine. Every now and again it will be urgent for that person and of course, you will need to accommodate. Develop some protocol for working in the open office, so you do not get constantly distracted.


Distractions Trap No. 7: Your Personal Time Waster

Trap: Most of us do something that is a complete waste of time! Some of these are OK but some are not! Mine can be to surf through the TV channels looking for something better to watch! What is yours? Maybe it is spending time internet surfing that does not give you good energy? Take this example – if I were to spend 15 minutes of unproductive/unenjoyable time TV channel surfing every day, then by my calculations this is the equivalent of three years of my working life! Now that is a lot of time wasted!

Time wasting


Tip: Figure what your vice is. What wastes your time? What takes away your energy? Figure how many minutes it sucks from you each day and do the math! This calculation might help you stop or at least cut down!


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