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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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Five Productivity Experts Weigh In On Your Life

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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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When it comes to productivity, the past year and a half has thrown many people for a loop. Working from home and hybrid work has brought all kinds of new challenges — and new opportunities. (I’ve even produced several courses for LinkedIn Learning about this exact topic – check them out here.)

All this disruption is an opportunity to evaluate what’s working and what needs to change. It’s a chance to make changes that were a long time coming, and begin making more time for the things that have always brought you joy.

When it comes to finding new strategies and tools, I’ve always loved talking to the thought leaders and authors who are blazing new trails when it comes to productivity.

That’s why I started my live-streaming show Inside Scoop — to elevate the voices of experts on everything from financial productivity to WFH office design.

Here are some of my favorite episodes on productivity. Here are five episodes of Inside Scoop to catch up on:

 

Money-Making Productivity Tips with Jennifer Barrett

 

Make Sleep Your Productivity Superpower with Julie Wright

 

Design Your WFH Office for Productivity with Lee Wright

 

Making Stress Work in Your Favor with Heidi Hanna

 

Planning Your Farewelling with Karen Bussen

 

These experts are full of suggestions for creating the life you want to be living. Let’s take the lessons of the past year and put them to good use!

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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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The Benefits of A Mood Check In

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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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As you know, I’m a big fan of taking the last 20 minutes of my day to jot down all my to-do’s for tomorrow. It helps me set my intentions  and track what I want to get done. It’s a ritual that I lay out in my first book Listful Thinking.

Recently, one of my readers, Kim from Frankfurt, Germany, reached out to me about an additional category she added to her nightly to -do list. And I really like the idea!

A mood check-in section.

Read more

The Power of Doing Nothing

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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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You’ve got work to-do lists, home to-do lists, personal to-do lists, returning-to-the-office to-do lists – the list of lists goes on and on. But how often is doing nothing on your to-do list?

It might seem counterintuitive, but adding nothing to your to-do list can help you become more productive.

On the most recent episode on my live-streaming show Inside Scoop, I spoke with Pandit Dasa, author of Closing the Apps in Your Mind and Urban Monk, mindfulness leadership expert, CEO, and former NYC monk  – who offered his insight on how doing nothing can help you accomplish everything.

1) Closing the apps in your mind.

This is more than just the title of Pandit’s book – closing the apps in your mind is a metaphor for why meditation is so important. When too many apps are open on your smart device it clutters the machine, slows down its functions, and drains the battery.

And your brain works the same way.

Taking time to breathe and do nothing increases your awareness of your own thoughts, which can help you let negative or unhelpful thoughts pass without judgement.

2) How closing out your apps helps you.

But why is noticing your thoughts and letting them pass so important? Pandit brings up a Psychology Today article which says we have thousands of thoughts in a day and all of them impact us whether we realize it or not. He goes on to say, every three or four seconds our mind opens a new thought tab, and even though we don’t remember all the thoughts, “it still exhausts us.”

Ever find yourself having an imaginary fight or preparing for a situation that might not even happen? Or worrying about something that happened in the past for a little too long? Only to realize you’ve lost a chunk of your day accidentally? That’s what happens when all your apps are open.

It’s easy to get distracted and sucked into a thought without realizing, the same way you can fall into an internet rabbit hole. And that really cuts into your productivity and stress levels, throwing your whole day off.

Pandit explained it perfectly, “A calm mind is a great foundation on which the rest of the day can be built.” And a calm mind makes for a healthier and happier mind and life. Taking the time to exist in the quiet, hear your thoughts, and let them pass, can help you stay focused in the present moment, increase your creativity, productivity, and decrease your stress and irritability.

3) Preparing to do nothing.

It’s easier to talk about meditation than to do it. Pandit recommends putting “yourself on the calendar.” Adding meditation to your to-do list is one of the best ways to ensure you do it (and don’t open more apps on your phone – or in your mind.)

And don’t worry, you don’t need to clear two hours every morning the way Pandit did during his days at the monastery when he was a monk. You just need to find a few minutes at a time that’s convenient for you. For some people first thing in the morning, for some before bed, and for others it’s the middle of the day. I like to meditate in the morning or else I find that I never get to it.

As Pandit reminds me, the most important part of meditation is doing it – not how long or what time you do it. Adding that if we don’t put ourselves on the calendar, “if we don’t prepare to do nothing, we’ll end up doing something, while we’re doing nothing.”

4) Is there a best way to do nothing?

There is no best way to meditate. Pandit suggests trying different ways and sticking with the method that works best for you. You can try taking a walk outside alone or with your pet, closing your eyes and paying attention to your breath before a big meeting, using apps like Calm, or simply putting your device away and looking out the window while eating lunch.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel the difference right away. Meditation is a practice – so it takes time and continuous practice to start noticing the effects. As long as your device is away, you’re focused on your breath. If, like Pandit, you ask your thoughts to “please stay in the waiting room” of your mind for a few minutes, you’re on the right track.

And if you’re not sure how to clear the time for meditation, check out my LinkedIn Learning course, How to Set Boundaries and Protect Your Time, which includes tips on how to prioritize your needs throughout the day.

It may feel a little strange to do at first, but a little bit of “nothing” can go a long way towards increasing your productivity and happiness. And who doesn’t want that?

You can check out our full conversation and kick start your meditation practice with a meditation led by Pandit 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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Working Remotely from Anywhere in the World

For the past six years, travel planner Cassandra Santoro has split her time between New York and Italy. She spends summers on the Amalfi coast, travels throughout Italy in the fall, and then returns to the U.S. for the spring.

Sounds pretty great, right? 

Cassandra isn’t on vacation 24/7/365, though. She’s a successful entrepreneur and CEO of Travel Italian Style. She’s become an expert at working remotely from all over the world.

Now that the pandemic has opened up remote work opportunities for so many people, this lifestyle is more and more feasible. But to make this work, there are more than a few logistical challenges to address. 

Cassandra joined me on my live-streaming show Inside Scoop to share how she does it:

Bring your own WiFi

You might think there will be internet access wherever you go — but Cassandra says that’s actually not the case. She says bringing your own WiFi can help the transition to go smoothly, ensuring you can always log on when you need to. Cassandra recommends buying a Skyroam hotspot.

If the home rental where you’re staying advertises WiFi, Cassandra says you should always check with the host to make sure the internet connection is strong and reliable. Better safe than sorry!

I have lots of other remote office tips in my LinkedIn Learning course “Organizing Your Remote Office for Maximum Productivity” as well. 

Making the space work

Even if you’re in a beautiful part of the world, huddling up in a dark room to work will kill your mojo.

When you’re working remotely from somewhere new, Cassandra recommends buying fresh flowers or even a basil plant to make the space feel homey. She also prioritizes light-filled rentals. 

Consider time zones

When you’re figuring out the logistics of working away from home, Cassandra says it’s important to consider time zones. Will you have to get up in the middle of the night for client meetings? It’s important to ensure that you can do your job without having crazy hours.

When in Rome…

When you’re working from someplace new, Cassandra suggests really immersing yourself in the local culture. For her, that means an aperitivo!

If you want to hear the rest of Cassandra’s suggestions, you can watch our full conversation here!