If you think mindfulness is for hippies, you’re wrong. To me, mindfulness in business has always made sense. To be acutely aware but also taking the time to focus your attention on things that are important. It sharpens our ability to observe, to listen and to raise awareness of when our thoughts are wandering.
In a recent interview, Aurizon’s CEO Andrew Harding, said that he uses mindfulness to sharpen his focus. “Every day for the past 20 years he has sat in a quiet part of his house, or in a hotel room, and practised at least 15 minutes of meditation. If he can, he will do 30 minutes”.
But even if meditation is not your thing, don’t dilute your potency, by spreading yourself too thin. Harding advises others to focus on just a few things, really nail them and then move onto the next thing. For example, when making a presentation, focus on just three things (not ten) to build rapport and be memorable.
Here are some ways to manage distractions:
1. Block out the Noise
Many offices now provide open spaces to economise on space and costs however this can lead to increased distractions of noise. It also increases the temptation to be dragged into mindless chatter of conversation. Try bringing headphones to work. Not only will this block out the background noise, it also indicates to others that you are in a “space” where you do not wish to be disturbed. Some like to listen to music that is going to increase their focus. I create playlists in Spotify to meet certain needs, such as boosts of energy, concentration, or stress management.
2. Turn off Alerts
How can expect to manage your distractions when you give all your devices permission to distract you? Turn off social media sound alerts on your phone. And for your email systems, turn off alerts on your phone and computer. Rather, set reminders to check your emails periodically throughout the day so that you can focus on the work at hand. No doubt you are not paid to constantly check and respond to emails.
3. Manage Your Stress Triggers
It’s worth taking guidance from a stress management coach to have someone be objective for you and assist you in identifying your stress triggers. With the right tools and strategies, you can manage these triggers or at least be mindful and aware that they exist. While stress triggers can be a distraction, the stress will also cause your body to release excess levels of cortisol. Cortisol is great for pushing you through necessary stress (like physical exercise or dangerous situations) however excess production can be detrimental to your health. It can also trigger memory lapses and mood alteration.
4. Stop Multi-tasking
We can be lulled into a false sense of security thinking that we are getting more done by doing a multitude of things at once. However, research has shown that multitasking makes us less productive and less effective. If it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on task, then that is valuable time wasted, increasing the overall time it takes to complete each individual task.
5. Check Your Iron Levels
1 in 5 women are iron deficient. I was surprised to find out recently that I was significantly iron deficient and required an iron transfusion in the hospital. In researching what iron deficiency does, I discovered that it assists in the process of distributing oxygen around the body, including the brain! Why make your brain work harder than it has too.
6. Identify Your Values
Now this might sound a little odd, but when we can identify what we value most, we can identify where our distractions lie. For example, I absolutely love organising things, creating order out of chaos, so this is where I will get distracted. I will tidy my desk, number things or alphabetise something before doing important phone calls. One of my favourite speakers on the subject is Benjamin J Harvey. He teaches people how to fast track success in their own business by focusing on their passions, that is tapping into their purpose and values.
- Turn off Alerts
- Stop multi-tasking
- Identify your values (what floats your boat)
- Try and multitask
- Ignore symptoms of low iron or stress
- Constantly check emails or social media