“You Don’t Get Results by Focusing on Results.  You Get Results by Focusing on the Actions That Produce Results.”

-Mike Hawkins-

Absentmindedly, you reach for your phone. You open your favorite app. Nothing has changed since you last did this 10 minutes ago, but you kind of forgot that you’d just done this. So, you open a different app… but you were just there, too. Does this sound familiar?

Sometimes, we convince ourselves we’re being super productive by staying up to date with the latest news and happenings on social media and responding to emails immediately. The reality of the matter, though, is you are distracting yourself from bigger things.

When you’re at work your focus should be on the task at hand. If you are working on an audit or investigation your full attention, all your senses, should be on your goals.  If you think you can multi-task and give everything 100%, you are lying to yourself.  If you are in an interview and become distracted, you could lose important information or even an admission.  Distraction is a huge cause of interview weakness and failure.

When you’re at home your focus should be on your responsibilities on the home front. Are you doing what you giving the kids, your significant other, or whoever the attention they deserve?  Are you taking care of the tasks that will supplement a good life work balance.  

In this age of incredible distractions that have crippled our attention spans at an epidemic rate, it’s time to take back control.

  • No More Notifications

Open your phone settings right now and go in and turn off notifications. You don’t need an update about who sent what Tweet yesterday but it’s time for you to see it now. You don’t need a constant stream of distressing news updates breaking your focus. Check your social media at set times, do the same for email, and ignore it the rest of the time. Establish a schedule, practice some self-control.  What in the world did we do before those notifications?  I remember life was quite good.

  • A Healthy Routine

You can improve your focus by establishing a healthy daily routine. When you set your routine and you get used to it you don’t have to waste time thinking about what comes next. It’s why people like Steve Jobs did and Mark Zuckerberg does, wear the same outfit. I’m not sure I would go that far, but believe me, I don’t go far enough.  Look for areas to establish a routine and see after a couple weeks if that doesn’t make life flow better.

  • Prioritize

What does your day look like? What is on your to-do list? The best way to avoid distractions is to rank your tasks in order of priority. It can be overwhelming when you think about all the things you need to do, by putting them in order you remove the stress and overwhelm.  Note to self: Remember this order is not the priority of what is the most fun, easiest, or quickest to do, it is prioritized based on your mission and vision.  Note to self number two:  I got some work to do here.

  • Say No To Multitasking

Are you a multitasker? If yes, are you good at it? If yes, you’re wrong. Sorry. Your attempt at multi-tasking is slowing you down, reducing your productivity, and you’re not doing each task as well as you could be. By multitasking, you contribute to distractions.  I know some of you hate to hear this.  My wife said I’m crazy, but the fact is you divert attention from each item by multitasking.  It is an issue of cognitive load.  We can’t do everything equally well.  Now some tasks aren’t that important that you can go ahead and do it.  Believe it or not, last Sunday I watched football and sewed a hole in a shirt.  Both got accomplished successfully, I think, so no big deal.  But I address this all the time in interview training when I beg that people do not multitask.  Don’t be taking notes while the interviewee is talking.  We aren’t good listeners as it is and to throw in other tasks, it will result in us missing valuable information.

  • Renew

When your schedule is going haywire, when the world is throwing distractions in your face it’s difficult to take a moment for yourself. However, renewal is vital. As your energy dips, memory is fading, and you can feel the stress creeping in, it is important that you withdraw from that and take time to regenerate.  You will say, “I can’t step away now, look what is going on” and I would say “you can’t afford not to step away, breathe, relax, refocus, and renew.”  I often say there is always another way and another day to get it done in our business.

What do you think?  We are in an analytical business, have you stepped back and honestly analyzed whether maybe a few of these issues need to be addressed in your work or home life.  My bet is that there is more than one.  So right after you shut off those urgent notifications, take some time to chart out a path to minimize some of those distractions and white noise in your life. I would love to hear some of the steps you took, who knows I may just steal a few.

When it comes to accomplishing goals and positive interview, investigation, and audit results have you thought about whether your distractions are interfering with your success?  Or again, do you care about this enough (see my blog from a few weeks ago on having passion)?  Do you plan and strategize for opportunities to minimize distractions and establish goals and workflow to ensure a positive outcome.  Realize these steps build confidence and credibility in you that others see, and this further improves the potential for a stellar performance.

Anderson Investigative Associates is positioned to custom-tailor training to your specific needs.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss the above issues of creating a distraction free life or any training need, please reach out.  Additional issues pertaining to interviewing, auditing, and investigations can be found in other blogs and videos that we have produced and are contained in most blocks of instruction that our company presents.

If you have additional questions, comments, or have an interviewing topic you would like me to address, give me a shout.  In the meantime, be well, stay safe out there, and start minimizing distractions in your life, but please keep reading my blogs.

Mark A. Anderson

Director of Training and Development

Anderson Investigative Associates, llc

114 Loucks Avenue

Scottdale, PA 15683