Eliminating Distractions

A guide for staying laser-focused in business and management.

So, what is up with this recent presentation of mummified “non-human” specimens in glass containers to Mexico’s Congress, apparently discovered in Cusco, Peru? And what about the cascading amount of data on UFOs (now called UAPs, which stands for unidentified anomalous phenomena) that started in 2021 with new videos and a whistleblower claiming our government has alien craft and bodies?

While the Pentagon and other spokespeople tell the media these are false claims, what opened this deluge of stories, attention, and press accelerating UAP sightings after a dribble of conspiracy stories since the late 1940s?

As a child of the space program in the 1960s, I believe the odds of other life in space are very high. Plus, at the age of 13, while laying on a stone fence gazing into the dark, starry skies of West Texas one summer, I saw a bright, moving object at a high rate of speed stop and reverse direction without a pause. I don’t have a solid explanation for what I witnessed, but I have no doubt that I saw something and experienced it in clear detail. But, I digress.

Distraction reaction

What I do believe is what we’ve been recently exposed to (along with countless other notable events) are distractions. It doesn’t matter whether they are real or imagined. I think there is a constant conditioning exposure we are now all accustomed to from smartphones, the internet, cable TV, radio, and other media.

Is it not interesting that in the last few years, each time a distressing news event on the economy, politics, education, reproductive rights, populism, inflation, armed conflict, the climate, or other controversial topic comes out, there is an immediate and increasingly bizarre event that follows it?

Sensational news stories distract us from real crises. Distractions are inevitable. Some people believe distraction, and biased news especially, is ruining our country. I wouldn’t go that far, but I believe we are losing sight of what really matters.

What does this have to do with your business? Are distractions hurting you and your team more than you realize? Distractions cost money. They can have a negative impact on productivity and focus. They can make it harder to concentrate on tasks and complete them efficiently. It’s critical that you minimize distractions
whenever possible. What should you do to get back your original focus?

  • Create a dedicated workspace — Even if you have employees who work remotely, encourage them to have a designated area to minimize distractions.
  • Set clear goals — Breaking down goals into bite-sized, smaller, manageable tasks can make them less overwhelming and easier to focus on. a collector of mindless and mundane mental trivia.
  • Use time management techniques — Try focused bursts with short breaks in between to help improve productivity.
  • Minimize digital distractions — Turn off notifications on your smartphone and use website-blocking software to reduce the temptation to check social media or surf browsers.
  • Practice awareness and mindfulness — Deep breathing, meditation, and other mental calming techniques can improve focus and reduce distractions. Find strategies that work for you.

My wife, Nita, has long asserted that I have a distinct tunnel vision. Not the loss of peripheral visual field, but the kind where once I’m engaged in a time-sensitive task, the building might burn down around me without me noticing.

It can be very advantageous when concentration is important under pressure, but it can have drawbacks since it can limit my perception of the environment or make me miss certain details. I have learned to strike a balance so that I can maintain some situational awareness and evaluate alternative ideas that are not mine.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”— Annie Dillard

I strongly believe that many entrepreneurs have this intense form of mental concentration and visualization to some extent.

Whether you call it being in the zone or automatic attention, this laser focus attribute causes time to fly and can even be euphoric. I think it can be central to your success if you can control it.

Being hyper-focused has allowed me to be a goal-driven top salesperson, an above-average athlete, a writer, a passionate marketer, a subject matter expert, and a collector of mindless and mundane mental trivia.

When I was younger, I had a photographic memory which helped me shortcut my natural tendencies for laziness and procrastination. Time is a cruel mistress, however. I can still see page details from my physical science textbook in the eighth grade, but I cannot tell you what I had for lunch yesterday. And I remember the date the Magna Carta was signed: June 15, 1215. (My birthday is June 14, so it’s not too much of a stretch.)

Hyperfocus can be a potent tool as a business owner. It can amplify productivity and help you spark innovation to drive business growth. Plus, it can fuel creativity and help you accomplish more than your competitors.

This laser focus can create a high activity level to help you work whenever and wherever as needed. Some think hyperfocus is a superpower. Others think it might be like kryptonite if it accounts for vast periods of time spent on distractions to dodge unpleasant responsibilities. So, what do you do if you have hyperfocus? What can you do to manage your superpower?

  1. Identify and investigate — Increase your self-awareness through learning about emotional intelligence. What does hyperfocus look like for you? Do you neglect self-care? How do you respond to interruptions and distractions? Are you focusing on an interesting task or avoiding something unappealing? With practice, you can learn to exit mindfully from an episode.
  2. Plan and prioritize — List all your tasks for the day and the week. Put them in priority in terms of urgency or importance. Assign the urgent tasks first, followed by the important ones, and arrange them in blocks of time in your day. Limit the tasks you can achieve so you will feel more accomplished.
  3. Improve time management — Use every tool at your disposal: your phone, computer, banners across the screen, clocks, timers, or whatever works for you. For my wife, she still relies on Post-it notes. Keep your planned, structured breaks to stay on track.
  4. Find an accountability partner — You don’t have to be in it alone. Ask someone in your life that cares about you (a family member, friend, colleague, or mentor) to check in with you. This can help break up periods of hyperfocus. Support is critical to all phases of success, including this one.

I have found a few other tips to help you stay focused on your business and eliminate distractions.

  • Find a mentor — Engage with an experienced mentor and ask them to help you set goals, gain perspectives, and inspire you to aim higher.
  • Be careful when multitasking … or don’t do it at all
  • Constantly reevaluate your priorities — Prioritizing tasks is a fine art and is crucial when you are facing new challenges.
  • Create a realistic timeline and plan for your business
  • Just say “No.” — If you say yes too often, you may struggle to stay focused. It is important for you to learn to say no and allocate time for yourself.
  • Delegate tasks responsibly
  • Save time with better tools and software — Technology can be your friend when running a business. Look for tools, apps, and software that can make your life easier and automate tasks.
  • Keep a positive attitude
  • Eat a healthy meal with protein for breakfast and lunch — Your body needs fuel and energy, and your brain needs sugar through carbohydrates to work at peak efficiency. You don’t see professional athletes go to a workout or game without eating properly!
  • Outsource services if possible
  • Clean up your desk — A cluttered work area can affect your focus and organization
  • Consider how you manage your team — Micromanagement can undermine your autonomy and motivation.

Once you minimize distractions, you will have a real chance at having a work-life balance. It will help with stress, improve your overall health, and increase energy and focus. You might even reduce your health-care costs — and I painfully remember that was one of the largest monthly expenditures in our business.

Improving productivity and efficiency are critical to success. These byproducts will help you recruit and keep great talent in your organization. We all seek job satisfaction. As a boss, it is our job to help employees boost their confidence in their performance each day.

The average person will spend about 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime — or about one-third of their life. So, let’s get started on eliminating distractions. We don’t have time to waste.

Paul Ingle

Paul Ingle

Design Center Signs

Paul Ingle started selling signs in 1985 and has worked with regional, national, and international accounts with custom, architectural and production manufacturing firms. He has held various positions in sales, sales management, and marketing since 1973. From 2006 to 2017, he and his wife Nita owned Design Center Signs in Tyler, Texas (A Comet Signs Company.) Comet Signs is now part of Stratus, the leading facilities and branding implementation firm. Paul is a past president of the Texas Sign Association and its regional chapter the Greater DFW Sign Association. Contact him at paul.ingle@cometsigns.com.

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