Days Of Distraction: A Micro Stressor With Macro Consequences

In our ongoing investigation into workplace stress, my hope is that you are inspired to confront this very real obstacle to success from a perspective of confidence rather than defeat. As we dissect the roots of today’s stressors and provide suggestions for your company to manage or overcome them, the goal is for you to feel empowered and motivated to navigate the workplace of the future….a place that allows for focus, creativity and productivity.

Our discussion began earlier this year with the macro stressors, or, the BIG corporate culture challenges we face. Then I revealed our micro stressors, which are the individual obstacles we encounter from the ironic standpoint of within. With that, let’s look at another leading micro stressor in the workplace, which got summed up concisely in The 5 Choices, by my colleague Kory Kogon and her co-authors, when they wrote, “It’s both easier and harder to achieve extraordinary productivity in today’s fast-paced, interconnected world.”

Kory and friends are referring in part to the modern onslaught of workplace distractions, some of which were initially designed to shorten the path from A to B, but subsequently have had quite the opposite effect. For many of us, inventing ways to sidestep these distractions has become a distraction in itself. But there’s good news: It doesn’t have to be that way. With a little self-examination, and some surprisingly practical strategies, we professionals can reclaim our time and focus, to the benefit of our companies, our careers and our level of self-preservation.

Decisions, Decisions

The unconscious stress we sustain each day from an overwhelming inflow of decisions converts to nothing short of mental paralysis (Did you know that the average adult is faced with 35,000 remotely-conscious decisions DAILY?) Such decisions bombard us from all angles, devouring our time and energy with reckless abandon. From what to eat (and not to eat), to which blouse to wear with these slacks, to which avocado to choose at the grocer, to how to avoid colliding with the person walking toward you on the sidewalk texting, to your own texts, email, IM’s and phone calls, to your impulses and the reigning-in thereof, you are obliged to be a walking, talking, decision-making machine from the moment you rise until you drift back into dreamland. This leads to unforeseen mental exhaustion, and tempts you to surrender to costly comforts that even willpower cannot guard you against (have you counted the empty Haagen Dazs containers in your trash bin lately?)

The bigger story here is that endless decisions can throw open the floodgates for endless distractions in the workplace. These distractions, which often take the form of interruptions by colleagues or online communications, are effectively gnawing away at our focus. The unsustainable result is we’re left in a productivity crisis, often unable to reach task completion or to demonstrate our value and dedication to the company. An alarmingly-high percentage of us admit to being distracted by endless decisions at work, losing hours each day to seemingly unavoidable disorder. But despite this general statistic, reversing the trend is thankfully within our grasp.

Where Do We Go From Here?

We at DRIVEN have exposed ourselves to the many roadblocks that professionals are confronted with on a daily basis, including the infamous workplace distraction. The solutions we formulate are real and practical, and have shown solid results. Check back in early December for our follow-up article, which will include a detailed case-study in turning around the career of a colleague whose productivity was plagued by distraction. It will demonstrate how a renewed sense of control is within reach for anyone.