Distractions and productivity


One day, Peter was worried his boss did not find him productive. When his wife asks why, Peter says: “My boss calls me a computer. He says I have nothing to do with intelligence, and I go to sleep if left attended for 15 minutes.”

We now have mass vaccination. Governments both here and abroad are learning how to manage the situation. Companies and industries are planning for the post-Covid economy, and a challenging task will be identifying a new set of priorities. Coping with the ever-shifting situation took precedence. But moving forward, there will be other issues. Issues like talent management, sustainability, and productivity will require focus.

The lockdown has somehow induced people to grind through the present, but we need to train people to power up and prepare for the future. Meanwhile, we need to be aware of the current distractions that have pulled down our productivity.

Have you noticed that our days seem to vaporize, and we wonder why we have barely ticked off a few boxes of our to-do-list? We squeeze in additional hours taken from our personal or family time or set the alarm an hour earlier the following day so you can catch on to work? Perhaps, what we should have done is to sit down, be still, reflect and think. (No, this is not wasting time – this is investing time). Then figure out Why you cannot be more productive? We would have discovered distractions are the culprit.

One person said: “I would be very productive, but I keep distracted by two things. Anything and everything.” What causes distractions? We know this very well, and the culprit is none other than technology.

Recent research and survey have shown that the average worker gets interrupted some 11 minutes every workday and it takes 25 minutes to bring the mind to refocus after every interruption. A “ping” of the computer, a glance into the tiny little box that says: “Squid Game is Netflix’s biggest hit!” You open the notification and read a full-blown article. So now you go to your Netflix account and bookmark it. “It’s double-date,” says another notification. So, you “Add to Cart.” The work you were doing is sidelined and will take you a few minutes before you can refocus.

We need to minimize these distractions to increase our productivity so manage the following:

1. Too many meetings

Clients complain that they have too many Zoom or virtual meetings. It seems like the world of work exists in meetings, and productivity dies in them. Too many Zoom meetings are producing many zoombies, and they get more stressed, and productivity drops.

2. Curiosity without a purpose

The whole world is at your fingertips, and distractions are just a click away. We google things that do not matter, from wanting to know the once-famous celebrities 30 years ago and how they look today to endless rantings of angry people, fake news, and conspiracy theories. To be curious is ideal, but just like everything else, it has to be strategic and purposeful.

3. Push notifications

Turn all of these off. That ping, that bing that vibration constantly distracts your attention. Not only that, the people who hear it or see you distracted by it would also consider you impolite when you have to respond to it.

4. Text messages flurry

You check your phone only when you are about to take a break. But you do not check your phone constantly as some teenager does. If it is something that requires your immediate attention, you will receive a call.

5. Email

Do not carry the obsession to empty all your email boxes, and that is just impossible. Check your email from time to time and not constantly like you would do viber or text messages. I check my email and allot only 10 minutes to make sure nothing’s on fire. I revisit it later in the afternoon when my energy may be lower as I have allocated it for the main thing I do, which mostly consists of giving webinars.

We need to eliminate these distractions that we may have allowed to happen in almost two years of pandemic living. We need to power up for the post-Covid world that awaits us.

Call me an eternal optimist all you want, but I look forward to brighter and better days. And I start with leveling up my productivity now in preparation for the future. Thomas Fuller says: “In fair weather, prepare for foul.” This is the foul weather that we are experiencing. But God is faithful. This, too, shall pass. We should prepare for fair weather as well.



(Francis Kong’s highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership Master Class Online will have its final run for the year this November 17-19. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)

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