Handling Distractions in a Hybrid World

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BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

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Whether working from home or returning to the office, there are distractions everywhere. And we need help.

That’s why I invited focusologist, Penny Zenker, on the most recent episode of my live-streaming show Inside Scoop, “Handling Distractions in a Hybrid World.

Here are a few tips we discussed to understand, avoid, and deal with distractions.

1) Understanding your distraction type.

Penny breaks distractions into three categories: emotional, physical, and environmental.

Emotional distractions are the biggest category. Penny explained these can be “taking care of your parents who are older, or if your kids are sick, or you got passed over for the job that you wanted.” Emotional distractions are things that happen in your life that take up your thoughts and energy, distracting you from what you need to do presently.

Then there’s physical distractions. Penny says these are things like “stopping my kids from coming in.”

And then there’s environmental distractions. Like being too cold or too hot. These are external factors that distract us from the task at hand.

2) Creating awareness.

Now that you’re aware of the type of distraction you’re dealing with, you can work to prevent it in the future.

Penny walked us through an example for those of us returning to the office: “What do you do about those got-a-minute meetings where somebody comes and stops by your desk?”

You can set up boundaries. You can put up your away message. Or block your calendar. Or set up specific office hours so people know when (and when not) to stop by.

For individuals, Penny suggested having predefined things to say. She says something like, “I only have five minutes. Is it something we can handle real quick?” works great. This lets people know how much time you have. And if it can’t be handled in that time frame, you can set up a time to meet about it later.

As a company, or team leader, make it a point to listen to your team members and be proactive in setting policies to help minimize the distractions they face.

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Interested in keeping out distractions by creating more boundaries? Join me for my LinkedIn Learning Course “How to Set Boundaries and Protect Your Time.

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3) Getting back on track.

Not all distractions are avoidable. That’s why I developed my distraction placeholder method.

I keep my to-do list next to me at all times. And on the lower left-hand side at the very bottom, I leave an area open for my distraction placeholders.

So if I’m in the middle of writing an email and I get distracted, I stop. I write down what I was doing. Then I allow myself to be distracted by answering the phone or the door. (It’s a little bit like mindful meditation.)

And when I return from my distraction, I look at my placeholder to know exactly what I was doing and pick up where I left off.

You can see how I do it and download that for free here.

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BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

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Long-Term Thinking in a Short-Term World

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BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

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It’s so easy to get caught up in instant gratification – especially these days with social media!

But true success takes time. And to accomplish your goals, you need to be a long-term thinker…despite our short-term world.

Author, keynote speaker, teacher for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and one of the Top 50 business thinkers in the world by Thinkers50, Dorie Clark, joined me on my live-streaming show Inside Scoop to discuss her new book The Long Game: Long-Term Thinking in a Short-Term World.

Together we broke down why long-term thinking is difficult in today’s world. And what you can do to adjust your habits and move your career forward.

Read more

Write a Letter To Your Future Self About COVID-19

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

Before I decided to start my own business as an author, speaker, and media trainer, I worked as a senior health producer for television news. Even though I loved my job, the time came when I realized I wanted to move on. 

The day I realized I needed a change, I wrote myself a long email about how I was feeling. I used an app called Boomerang for Gmail to schedule the email to arrive in my inbox one year later.

I knew that if I didn’t document how I was feeling in that moment, I would be able to trick myself into forgetting that it was time for me to start something new. 

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Four Ways to Focus on Your Goals During Lockdown

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

Do you feel overwhelmed by all the “helpful” content all over social media and the internet? I know I do. Everyone is sharing information on the positive things we can do during quarantine. 

From baking bread to learning new yoga routines, it seems like tips for being more productive and learning new skills are everywhere you look. 

Lots of people are feeling the urge to use this time to do something new and productive. But sometimes it just feels like there’s too many options. The pressure of all those things to do can be really stressful!

And you definitely don’t need more stress in your life — especially not during a pandemic. From adjusting to working from home to figuring out how to maintain healthy relationships with roommates or family members, everyone is figuring out how to stay sane and productive. 

That’s why it’s especially important to be mindful about what kinds of content you’re engaging with right now. 

I filmed a video with my four tips for clearing the clutter and making time for what you really want to do.

Make a list of the things you wanted to do before quarantine. 

If all this content is causing you stress, think about whether you’d have wanted to try these hobbies and tips before lockdown. If the answer is no, try to remember what you always wished you had time to do. Give yourself some a few minutes to brainstorm, and then see which of those goals is still viable with the restrictions of the pandemic. From there, you can decide which couple of things you want to try first. This isn’t just something that will help you during this time of crisis — it’ll be crucial as you design your post-pandemic life.

Find themes. 

Once you have a list of things you’d like to try, think about what themes show up. Are multiple items on your list related to getting involved in your community? Do you want to work on mindfulness? Are you hoping to be a more adventurous cook? Identifying these categories is a helpful trick for seeing which pandemic trends actually align with your existing interests. 

This is something I talk about in Listful Living. If you’re feeling overextended or burned out, it’s time to start thinking about which commitments and activities fit with your priorities. And what was a priority pre-pandemic might not be anymore. 

Cut down on screen time.

If you’re in the habit of spending your free time scrolling through social media, you’re probably seeing all kinds of ideas on how to introduce more positivity and productivity into your quarantine routine. All those options might make you feel pretty anxious. 

If this sounds like you, maybe it’s time to cap your screen time. When you find yourself mindlessly reaching for your phone, think about whether you’d feel better using the time to work on one of the projects you’ve already written down. Seeing lots of new ideas can distract you from what you already know you want to do. If you need help thinking of ideas, give yourself a set amount of time to search the internet for inspiration.

Keep track of the content you connect with. 

Lots of the positive content that’s out there can be helpful — but only if you have a way to interact with it that doesn’t cause more stress. If you do see something online that you think sounds interesting, keep a list of ideas. That way, you can keep track of things without feeling like you need to do it all right now. Maybe you saw a productivity hack that would make sense for you in a few weeks. Maybe a friend told you about a yoga routine she loves, but you’re just not feeling up to it right now.

Whether it’s a notebook or an app, keeping a running brainstorming list of all the best tips and ideas you come across will help you unload and focus on what you want to be doing right now. It’s key to think about what you need in your life today, not a week from now. If there’s an idea you love but aren’t ready to try, put it on hold until it makes sense for you and your life. 

Everyone is experiencing the pandemic differently, so what’s helpful for other people right now might not fit with your needs. Acknowledging this will help you prioritize the things that do fit. 

By spending less mindless time online and creating a system for keeping track of the interesting tips and new hobbies you come across, you can start taking control of your time. 

Do you have any tips for prioritizing your goals during lockdown? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. 

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

How Gayle King Stays Productive

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

A couple weeks ago, I went to see Gayle King give a talk. Gayle is an iconic journalist who has worked in media for over 40 years (even though she didn’t have a TV until she was in sixth grade!).

Plus, she’s Oprah’s BFF! And you know how much I love Oprah!

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