Distracted? Never, you claim, always fully tuned in, just multitasking.
It’s a popular self-deception. We’re all guilty to a degree.
Research has long debunked the notion of multitasking, our claim of being engaged in multiple things (aided by our digital tools) at the same time.
We’ve just become compulsive about requiring our brains to toggle between one thought or awareness and another. The faster we do it, the more we self-approving we become.
Faster makes winners, right? Until, there’s a wreck.
Distraction as enemy
Keeping up with the pace of change and career demands is wearying. So many swirling expectations and so little clarity about what really matters…to our progress.
We take a stab at one thing and then another, often deciding what’s important based upon what others are or seem to be doing or that text, post, news flash, or broadcast email we receive. Our biggest challenge at work is figuring out what matters and what doesn’t.
If you let yourself become distracted by all the inputs that come your way, you’ll more than likely spin your wheels and find yourself stuck in an ever-deepening rut.
You need to separate distraction from meaningful direction. That starts with recognizing how certain distractions can hurt you.
When distractions run amok, they can become:
- Career saboteurs–Success at work is about staying focused on the tasks at hand, providing updates to your boss, and working collaboratively with coworkers. When distractions caused by extraneous inputs obstruct your focus and productivity, your career will take a hit.
- A safety hazard–Inattentiveness is one of the main causes of accidents in the workplace. You don’t want to get hurt on the job and companies are upset when you do. When distracted, we slip, trip, and fall…or worse…whether we work in an office or outside. Distractions take make us vulnerable.
- Relationship eroders–Most of us want to matter at work…to our coworkers, bosses, and customers/clients. People you interact with want your undivided attention as much as you want theirs. Distractions that you respond to while with a colleague screams, “You aren’t more important to me than….” [fill in the blank…this text, email, person who caught my eye]. You may not get much future support from those you make feel less important.
- Confidence drains–Distractions interrupt your thought processes, often introducing extraneous points of view, declarations, positions, and news that derail insights that are uniquely yours. Your ideas lose momentum and you start to question their value and relevance. When distractions steer your thinking off course, you put your hard-earned self-confidence at risk.
Be on guard
There’s a relentless onslaught of information coming at you, often causing confusion and clutter in your life. You necessarily must be able to separate the useful from the useless, engaging in a a kind of distraction due diligence.
You need to take charge of the world around you, avoiding the tendency to follow the herd. This means you should:
- Stop second-guessing what you believe is important to your career success
- Refuse to fear being wrong, out-shined, or outplayed by others; instead just do what you do best
- Be willing to differentiate yourself by showcasing your talents and commitment to quality work
- Expect to be seen and heard, not to be kept faceless and at arm’s length
- Build meaningful relationships with colleagues that mirror what you want from them
The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a guarantee that you will. It’s impossible to be in tune with everything that’s going on around you. Most of it doesn’t matter to your career plan anyway.
What you don’t want is to miss out on the relationships, creative sharing, emerging insights, and depth of thought/experience that comes from focused engagement with the people you work with.
Resist with courage
It takes courage to resist distractions, especially when you’re surrounded by others addicted to them. Distractions become a cop out, an excuse for putting off decisions, completing work, and reaching out to others. It’s time to fight back.
Being busy being busy is the road to nowhere. Beat the traffic and take the undistracted route.