Maintaining Discipline in the Face of Distractions
If you’re chasing ROI, it’s worth investing your time and attention toward discipline amid distraction (both for yourself and your team!) Beyond dollar signs, your organization’s productivity efforts pay off in employee satisfaction: studies show that people with self-discipline are happier than those easily lost amid distractions. By working on your discipline at work, you’ll not only save time and energy, you’ll also come out happier!
Leading your organization through change is no small feat. Implementing these self-discipline strategies will help you stay on track no matter what environment you’re working in. As you integrate these into your own workflow, you’ll be equipped to share with your team too.
1. Create work cuesLet’s face it. We’re creatures of habit. Our brains need a little heads-up that it’s time to work. Creating cues that signal it is time to focus will jump start your attention and get you into action. Review your typical day and evaluate what’s keeping you focused and what’s not. Subconscious distractions may be steering your mind off track.
A simple tactic is to get "dressed" and be camera-ready, even if you have no video calls on your calendar for the day. This routine activity is a simple cue to yourself that it's time to work.
Other signals to put you in work mode might include closing the office door, using headphones or listening to a work playlist. Consider what gets your brain into work mode and make it part of your regular routine. As you execute these in your own workflow, share the benefits with your team so they can follow suit.
2. Organize prioritiesThe average employee is interrupted 50 to 60 times per day. Work still needs to be done, which is why priorities are so integral. Setting clearly-defined goals can be linked to higher achievement, help reduce stress, structure the day and respond wisely to requests. You may be surprised how your day turns around when you set priorities and get your tasks in order, and how your employees’ days change when they are equipped to do the same.
Once you have tasks written or typed out, rank them. What must be done immediately? What isn’t as urgent, but will still have an impact? When distractions arise, you have a clear workflow. You can revisit your priorities to determine what needs to happen today and what can wait.
3. Take intentional, yet flexible breaksYou’ve likely heard of the Pomodoro Technique, where you take a five minute break for every 25 minutes of work. When you’re leading, and you need to be accessible, your workflow may call for a different approach. We all deal with discipline and distraction differently. The key is to be intentional about breaks but be flexible for what the day holds.
There may be last-minute meetings and urgent tasks that throw off scheduled breaks, but it’s still important to take breaks. If you never turn "off" work mode, you'll be less productive. When you can focus on shorter, high-quality work sessions (instead of 24/7 mediocre work), you show your team what it looks like to succeed in the long-term.
When life gets in the way, give yourself a break from the mental criticism and take a deep breath. Consider your intentional breaks as modeling for your team. Even a moment of a break can reset your mind, and when you do this, your team will learn that they can too.
4. Set your future-self up for successHow you end your day sets the stage for how you start your day. It can be tempting to drop everything and switch gears. Intentionally preparing for the next day’s work can make a world of difference when you start your day. Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, made it a point to set his priorities for the next day before he left the office. In fact, that was one of the most important aspects of his daily routine.
Just a few minutes of preparation at the end of the day can help you effectively jump into work the next morning. With this preparation, instead of getting absorbed in a chaotic inbox, you’ll know exactly what’s most important and be able to jump right in.
Your leadership skills make an impact on your team, whether in crisis or not. The average organization could be 50% more productive with optimal leadership practices, according to studies by Ken Blanchard Companies. Just imagine, if your leadership is that much more impactful in good times, it could make all the difference in challenging ones.
You can find greater self-discipline amid distraction by implementing new strategies to stay focused. As you evolve, so will your impact, and your employees will be equipped to succeed.