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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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Checkli Helps You Discover a World of Lists

I can be a bit of a list-making purest, I still handwrite lots of my lists in a notebook. But I also love using apps and technology to be more productive. I found a new list-making app that I’m really into these days. It’s called  Checkli.

Checkli allows you to make lists and share them with friends, family and the public at large. It’s design is pretty simple and easy to use. You can alter the settings for every list you post, so you can keep your personal lists to yourself.

The main draw of Checkli, for me, is just how many checklists it has built in already. The search function is also very good so you can easily find more niche lists. So you can find lists like “Pre-Wedding Beauty Prep” for instance. Ok so that isn’t a list you’d need everyday but when you do need it you want all the information you can.

Here are some of the interesting and unusual lists you can find on Checkli:

  • The World’s Coolest Airports – Finland, The Maldives & Singapore all make the list!
  • Aesthetic Poetry Books
  • Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy – deli meats, soft cheese and raw sprouts are all no-nos.
  • Fall/Winter Clean-Eating Shopping Lists
  • Self-Care Practices to Explore – including some of my favorites like daily affirmations and gratitude journaling.

There is also a pro version of Checkli for businesses or individuals who want to use the app to promote themselves. A dog grooming company for example, might have some great puppy related checklists, Checkli pro allows them to add some branding to all the lists they make and expand their client base!

Checkli is a relatively new app so I’m excited to see what the future holds for it. If you download the app make sure to add me and let me know what you think!

Quicker Than a Celeb Marriage — Zirtual Is Back

Zirtual WebsiteUPDATE: This is a correction to a post I wrote this week called, “Outsourcing Site Zirtual Goes Bye Bye…Don’t Panic.”

Great news…you really don’t have to panic…

Zirtual is BACK!

Yep — just like that.

In the blink of an eye all those annoying tasks you didn’t want to do yourself — can be outsourced to a Zirtual assistant again!

I’ve rarely had to cover breaking news on this blog — I reserve that for my day job as a TV producer.  But I’m excited to bring you this up-to-the-minute update.

I heard from the CEO at Startups.co, which bought out Zirual after their payroll snafu.  Wil Schroter wrote via email:

We bought the company and are operating as per before.  Your article is inaccurate.  Happy to answer questions.

I didn’t realize they had gotten operations up and running so quickly.

Well that’s fabulous and that means you need to get going on that to-do list you’ve been putting off.  And by get to… I mean give it to someone else to do!

Outsourcing is your friend.

Sometimes Productivity Falls Through the Cracks

I have to admit when I got this email from Wil my heart sank.  I thought, “oh no! I got it wrong! I let my readers down.”

You see — as a producer working in news — “getting it right” is something that is really important to me — really it’s the only thing that matters.

I’m sorry I got this one wrong.  When I published that first post — the Zirtual blog still said it was in limbo and to stay tuned so that’s what I went with.

As soon as I learned about the update though — I preempted the blog post that was supposed to run today so I could bring you the most accurate information.

Sometimes productivity and accuracy does fall through the cracks. We are all human — remember not to be too hard on yourself today.

Thanks for understanding about my oversight and I hope you’re just as excited as I am that Zirtual is back!

10 Ways to Break Up Your Routine

standupI’m a sucker for a good routine. I’ve been known to stand in the same spot every day while I wait for the subway, eat the same thing for breakfast and even pick out my clothes before going to bed at night.

Goodness knows that you oftentimes need your routines to keep you on schedule. I sure do! They can help you order your life, and bring a sense of normalcy to an otherwise hectic schedule.

However, given enough power and time, they can potentially dampen your productivity. If your “routine” is starting to feel more like a rut, try boosting your creativity by shaking things up!

Here’s how to do it:

Take a different way to work: We take the same way to work every day, and for good reasons: The shortest route, the least stressful way, the commute that takes you past your favorite coffee shop. Occasionally breaking from this rut can bring a fresh perspective. After all, your mind is used to seeing the same sights for roughly the same time every single day. Changing this up could be a stimulating experience to wake you up to a new way of thinking or see a new neighbor you didn’t even know existed!

Change up your lunch: Always grab a burger? End up chatting with the same people about the same things? Change it up! Eating a salad with lots of leafy greens can be a healthy way to get the nutrition you need to focus. Picking a new spot means you might run into new people to chat with too.

Switch up your exercise: Services such as ClassPass offer a variety of classes and workouts you can try. So go give a spin class a shot, or maybe try out yoga. Read more

Springpad Says Farewell

Springpad app will be shutting down on June 25 (Photo Credit: beginnerstech.co.uk)

Springpad app will be shutting down on June 25 (Photo Credit: beginnerstech.co.uk)

Unfortunately, it’s time to say goodbye to another one of my favorite apps.

Earlier this year, I introduced you guys to Springpad—an app designed to help you plan, organize and share information regarding anything from important lists to your favorite recipes through notebooks and “springs”.

And once again, Evernote is taking over!  I feel like I’ve had to do so many of these posts lately—it seems like Evernote is taking over all of my favorite apps! Luckily, I’m a big fan of Evernote too, so I believe that Springpad is in good hands!

Springpad is officially shutting down on June 25th. You have until then to export your data, either to Evernote or to HTML and JSON files. Fortunately, Springpad has released an export tool that gives you the option to export your data to all three, in just a few simple steps.

Here’s how to transfer your data to each of the following:

1.     Evernote: Begin transferring your data at springpad.com/savemystuff. This will allow all of your Springpad data to move into an existing Evernote account. Once you transfer your data, all of your notes and notebooks will be available at evernote.com and sync on all of the Evernote apps. Luckily, you’ll be able to continue capturing and organizing all of the things you want to remember! Read more