The Power Of Distractions

We all know recruitment is a tough job, it's not your typical office job and it's not your typical 9-5, in fact I don't think I've ever worked 9-5. More often than not we work long days so it's inevitable you will get distracted and you will distract others. It's just a fact. And sometimes we need them, distractions can be a good thing, no one can focus 100% for 100% of the day and if you try you'll probably drive yourself mad. Our job is enough of a roller coaster as it is without having to pick your colleague up off the floor because they've had an aneurysm or their stomach ulcer has burst so yeah, occasionally distractions are a good thing. 

However, and this may sound obvious, but they have a pretty negative effect on your day. I don't just mean the act of the actual distraction itself, but the effect it has on your focus as you get back to whatever you were doing. It's the time that it takes you to actually get your focus back afterwards that is the real problem. You may think that 5 minute chat about what you binged on Netflix last night isn't a big deal, and when you turn back around and get back to what you were doing the distraction is over. Apparently, it's not.

Ask The American’s

In Gary Keller's book The One Thing he writes that anyone in a typical office job is distracted every 11 minutes and we then spend a third of our day in total recovering from those distractions. And in a study from the University of California Irvine they concluded it takes nearly 25 minutes to get fully focused on what you were doing. 

Now you may think that sounds like a long time, and I'm sure there are examples you can give where you just sat down, picked up the phone and got back to it. But the truth is you won't be as focused as you were when you started the task in the first place and it will now take you longer to complete it. And I don't just mean it will take you an extra five minutes because that's how long you spent watching some video on WhatsApp. I mean that if the task you were doing would take you ten minutes with no distractions, it's not now only going to take fifteen minutes with a five minute distraction. It could actually take you anywhere up to 30 minutes or more to complete. So, once you add them up, that's a lot of your day gone.

That Bastard Outlook Box

But as I said at the beginning some distractions are needed, but we can definitely cut out some of the easy and obvious ones. By far the worst has got to be emails, and that little blue box that pops up every 5 minutes with either another task to do or some pointless email. 

The solution, TURN YOUR EMAILS OFF. Now I know that sounds pretty scary and a lot of you are probably shaking your head saying it can't be done. But it can and it works.

I don't mean turn them off for the whole day for a start, so you can relax. Pick a time and block it out. I've recently tried this with my teams and it had such a positive effect and even with the odd chat about who's turn it is to get the coffees or how the groups WhatsApp videos are just getting worse, we still got more work done.

And it’s not the same by just disabling the pop up, close your emails down completely.

We Do It In The Morning

For us the most important time of the day is the morning, yours might be too or it could be another part of the day. We have a certain structure to our mornings and it will determine how the rest of the day could look. It is also by pure coincidence when I seem to get the majority of my emails for the day. So, when I was trying to get through my morning calls and the dreaded little blue outlook box would pop up I found myself reacting to every single one which just dragged my morning calls out, and it was the same for the teams.

After I convinced them I wasn't mad, we all turned our emails off. And guess what? The world didn't end and my clients didn't all leave me. Our core calling is technically from 8.30am, but like most of you we just get on the phone as soon as we get in the office while dipping in and out of emails. So, what we did was agree to get any urgent admin done first before making any calls, and all admin needed to be done by 8.30 at the latest. And we just set up an out of office for 8.30-9.30 for external and internal emails. And it worked to the point where not only were all our important calls done before 9.30 we also had spare time to clear off any other important tasks before turning our emails back on. The results have been amazing, we still have the odd chat about this and that but a lot of us have found ourselves with all this extra time before 9.30 whereas previously we would struggle to be done by 10.30.

Give It A Week

So, try it, pick a time or times of the day that are important for you and block it out, set up an out of office and turn them off. Try it for a week at least and you will definitely notice the difference. We all rely on our emails too much, sometimes we just sit there waiting for them to come in to deliberately distract us. But nothing bad is going to happen and your colleagues will get used to it pretty quickly as well, they might even do the same. And then when your boss notices that everyone's activity is up you can take all the credit for what a great idea it was.

If you have any thoughts, please comment below.


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