How to Reset People to Keep Distractions at Bay
Episode #7 of the course The fundamentals of mastering your focus by Som Bathla
Welcome to Lesson 7 of your course.
Admit it: Despite your commitment to focusing on your work, there may still be distractions from those around you. People will ask you to grab a coffee or go for a quick smoke. You may get calls from another colleague for a random query.
Today, you’ll learn how to reset others’ behavior, following a different approach for a different set of people, which will help you continue work in a focused manner.
Since this issue is more related to people working in corporate or team structures, I have addressed this lesson specifically keeping that in mind. Generally speaking, however, in any workplace, there will be three categories of people whom you have to deal with.
Category I. Your Reporting Managers
This is the most delicate category, as they are the people who sign your paycheck. In any case, you have to stay focused on your work primarily for this category of people, so you must adhere to their instructions carefully. However, you are likely continuously flooded with different types of instructions from this category, which sometimes might appear to be overlapping or contradictory. Here, you have to follow a connection or rapport approach with such people.
For example, it is not always possible to understand the deeper intent behind a two-line email. Your superiors don’t have enough time to articulate an email for your convenience, and frankly, they don’t need to. So, you should build your confidence to go to your stakeholders and be clear about their expectations. You should understand the perspective of the other side, and you should tell your own reasons as well.
Furthermore, by taking the time to communicate with your boss about the project on a regular basis, you will make them aware that you’re already on the job. This way, you don’t get frequent unnecessary interruptions, and you can build your focus better on the work.
Category II. People Who Report to You
Now let’s address the second category: people who report to you. With your direct reports, you need to set expectations right with a proper line of communication. This process may be structured as follows:
• Initially, you should explain your team what results are expected from them, as well as your approach to the work.
• Then, you have to hear their approach of working and any suggestions for improvement.
• Once the above is done, a fortnightly meeting in the office and a monthly lunch meeting outside the office are good enough to understand the specific issues or concerns of your subordinates that need your involvement.
In other words, you should empower your team to make quick decisions on most issues, and they should know that you are available only for discussing important and tricky issues. This way, you can manage your subordinates and build your focus without much interruption.
Category III. People from Different Teams
The third category of people is from different teams in the organization, who may or may not have a work relationship with you. These people need to be handled subtly over time, not abruptly. Sometimes it becomes difficult because you may be quite friendly with these people, and saying NO to them seems almost impossible.
So, I suggest that you follow these few strategies:
• Use your earphones quite often. This way, the other person might think that you’re on a phone call and might not disturb you in the first place.
• If someone offers to grab a coffee or a quick smoke, tell them that you’re doing something urgent—for example, working on an important presentation to be emailed in the next 30 minutes. Soon, the frequency of them approaching you will get reduced, as they will understand that work is your priority.
Try out these tactics a few times, and you will adjust the behavior of these colleagues. The frequency of such interruptions will reduce over time.
Tomorrow, we will talk about how sleep can be your best friend in your goal of mastering your attention.
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic by Stephen R. Covey
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