Every minute of every day, something is trying to distract you.
In the time it’s taken me to write this sentence, I’ve received two email notifications and one Facebook friend request. In the 15 seconds it’s probably taken you to read up to this point, 6.21 days of video have been uploaded to YouTube, and some of it is bound to be hilarious. Any minute now someone’s going to call or stop by your desk to talk about a problem or see if you want to grab some lunch–and a beer always sounds good.
Add these all up, and it shouldn’t be surprising that the average office worker gets distracted 20 times an hour. Sixteen of those distractions will be minor, but four of them will require an average of 23 minutes to deal with–which means that the average worker spends 92 minutes every hour dealing with distractions. No wonder you feel like you can’t catch up.
You’ve read plenty of articles about who to listen to–your customers, your employees, your social media community. But unless you’re so oppressively bored that you like the idea of doing 92 minutes of work every hour, maybe it’s time to figure out who and what to ignore.
The most common distraction of all, at least according to a Microsoft corporate report. Pavlov might have done his experiment with dogs, but he could have just as easily strapped a bunch of people into computer chairs and then forced them to listen to email and IM alerts; he’d have observed all of his subjects start to drool. You can’t ignore your email forever, but you can set aside dedicated times every day to deal with it and turn off your alerts. It’s either that or slobber all over your keyboard.
Your boss wears ugly ties. The guy across the hall listens to stupid music. The girl next to you has so many cat pictures that you’re starting to question her sanity. If none of those things is preventing these people from doing their jobs effectively, then none of them should concern you. Ignore their eccentricities, and keep your unkinder thoughts to yourself. After all, it’s not like you’re perfect either. And don’t try to lie to me–I’ve seen you singing off-key in your car at stoplights.
Do you like what you do? Do you like who you work with? If so, then don’t worry about who’s getting promoted or when you’ll get your next raise. If you keep working those things will come to you. There will always be people ahead of you, you will always think some of them don’t deserve to be there, and it will accomplish absolutely nothing to dwell on that. That’s something I remind myself of often whenever I remember that I don’t yet own an island.
I hope this has been a helpful distraction. Now stop wasting time and get back to work!
—Jeff Havens is a keynote speaker and corporate trainer who addresses leadership, generational issues, and other areas of professional development through a unique blend of content and entertainment. He has been a regular guest on Fox Business News and featured in CNBC, BusinessWeek, and Bloomberg News. To learn more about Jeff’s keynote presentations and corporate training, visit JeffHavens.com.