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4 Ways to Overcome Workplace Distractions

12.02.10   |   Job Search & Career   |   Sean Cashman, Senior Consultant at Treeline Incorporated

Written By: Sean Cashman, Senior Consultant at Treeline, Inc.

How many times have you been doing a task at work when...wait...oh, I have to take this call...I'll be right back.

...ok, sorry about that. I have been waiting for that call for 2 days. Where was I? Oh yeah...it is so difficult these days to keep your focus on the task at hand...oh, wait...my colleague just sent me a great video clip...that is hysterical. I need to send this to some friends...

...I'm back. Ok, I am focused on this...what am I focused on?! Oh, yeah - this blog.

So, I'll cut right to it. We live and work in a world of distractions. We are more accessible than ever before. Cell phones, smart phones, email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the list goes on. In the information age, we have access to endless amounts of data which is great but there is a catch...the data has access to us as well.

While I type this, I am receiving emails, Twitter updates, Face Book posts, phone calls, texts and funny looks from my colleagues as I ignore their requests to check out the YouTube video of the woman falling off the porch. ...I'll be right back...I have to check that out...

It was worth it...absolutely hysterical. Where was I?

The point of this blog is that it is more difficult than ever to complete the task at hand in one sitting. There are so many things pulling at us to for our attention that it can only be expected that we will be distracted from what we are trying to accomplish. Now, some people will argue that multitasking has been around for a while now and it is expected in the everyday workplace...I am not referring to typing an email as I talk on the phone.

I am talking about discipline to complete what you are working on before you move on to the next item up for business. How many times do you start a simple task and get distracted and when you come back to the incomplete task, it takes you twice as much time because you are trying to remember that the heck you were trying to accomplish...oh, the tangled web we weave.

Here are some tips to keep you on track and on schedule:

  • Block off time and stick to your schedule. If you set aside an hour to make cold calls then stick to it. If you find yourself cleaning out your inbox in that hour, you are going to have to make up that time on the back end and we all know that there are not enough hours in the day.
  • Make a 'To Do List'. If you do not know what needs to be done, it is because you did not write it down...simple, yet very effective.
  • Eat the Frog. If you never read this book - go get it. If you have, you know what this means. Eating the frog is that task that we dread doing and we will avoid it at all costs. We end up looking for distractions in order to avoid eating the frog. If you eat the frog first, everything else you do will be easy in comparison.
  • Discipline. Stick to the plan. Set a task, set a deadline and stick to it. Ignore the emails, phone, Facebook posts, etc. Simply put, Get'er done.


I am not saying it is easy...it's not. I started this one page blog at 8:30AM and it is approaching lunch time. I am a fast typer and I find it relatively enjoyable to write. The reason it took me so long is because since I began writing, I have taken 7 phone calls, sent 13 emails, made 1 Facebook post, watched 3 YouTube videos and discussed current events with my colleagues.

Just another day in the 2010 workplace. Now, what am I doing next??...

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