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Four Strategies For When Distractions Seem To Sabotage Your Productivity

Recently, I spent some quality time with a family member who started a successful online business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) company. He shared with me some of the challenges he's faced running a successful startup.

Other than the usual, like financing, people, systems, etc., one of his greatest challenges was the overwhelming amount of tasks that competed for his time and attention. Always being in “urgent” mode didn’t allow him or his partner to determine what was actually important in the long run.

I shared with him some of the productivity "hacks" I use when coaching executives to overcome distractions and achieve the important tasks.

Here are my recommendations to help you stay focused and feel more accomplished.

1. Block off time to accomplish your goals.

Use a planner to write down your long-term goals (1-5 years), mid-term goals (6-12 months) and short-term goals (3-120 days). We call these "big rocks." Review them daily and create a folder of either the big rock goals for the day, the important activities you want to accomplish, emails that need attention or any other task you don't want to be distracted from.

I recommend that you take a two-hour block, say from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. Place a note on your door or desk that advises your team not to interrupt unless it's a dire emergency. Try to repeat this habit daily at the same time.

Review the big rocks and check them off as you accomplish them. Over time, you will see how much you were able to accomplish by staying focused. Have weekly team meetings to update everyone on the goals, as this enhances transparency and accountability.

2. Practice mindfulness.

Some people have discovered that mindfulness helps them think clearer and without interruption, and stay calmer. Mindfulness can be achieved through meditation. Focus on breathing in and out and not letting your mind wander. If you find that your mind has wandered, just go back to focusing on your breaths.