How to Beat Distraction While Working from Home

The ping of the email. The buzz of the phone. The coworker who just needs to ask you one quick question.

Distractions are more than annoying: over the course of a day they add up to a significant loss of time. Over the course of a year, if they never let up, they take a very real toll on our health.

Why do we get distracted at home?

If you’re alive and reading this, thank distraction.

If you’re alive and reading this, thank distraction. It was the ability to become suddenly aware of a change in the environment—like a lion approaching—that allowed our ancestors to survive.

Scientists call this bottom-up, or stimulus-driven, attention. These are things we can’t help but react to, like loud noises, sirens, or the sounds of your boss’s voice.

At the same time, we also have the ability to filter out some level of distraction. Scientists call this top-down, or voluntary-focus, attention. This is what allows us to read a book in a crowded coffee shop.

These two forms of attention types should work in a balance, allowing us to concentrate on one thing while still being alert if a lion creeps up on us.

But today, so many things have joined the stimulus-driven, pay-attention-to-me-now list that we’re having trouble getting anything done. Studies have shown that we lose over two hours a day to distraction. And it doesn’t matter how small the distraction is: it takes us about 25 minutes to fully recover our focus after being interrupted.

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From Distraction to Action 

As experienced cross-functional managers, we know that many distributed teams are stressed and maxed out trying to reach their targets, and constantly being pulled in many directions. We understand how easy it is to fall into crisis mode and start stomping out only those fires that are the closest — the ones that distract with perceived urgency. Or to become overwhelmed into an unproductive tailspin.

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Our Days of the Week (DOTW) methodology is designed to get past those distractions, force people to focus on the project’s priorities, and get things done. 

It’s deceptively simple. With DOTW, we pursue accountability daily: assigning action items, assessing risk, and constantly following up. If any individual is not getting the work done, we escalate long before it becomes a threat to the project.

Distributed teams are stressed and maxed out trying to reach their targets, and constantly being pulled in many directions.

When you think about it, wrangling a number of distracted people to achieve a goal is sort of herding cats. It is possible, but you really need special skills.

Would you like your next project to be a little more stress-free? Talk to us today about how our experience and methodologies can keep your project and your team focused in one direction. 

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