My sister’s ringtone broke the sunny silence. “What are you doing?” she asked. Caught red handed. “Oh, getting distracted before I start writing about distractions.” Ouch. So begins a little advice on personal distractions.
For distractions of our own making, think REMOVE.
1. Remove The Distraction
Different strokes for different folks. These steps and others have worked for attorneys I know. Find what works for you.
Put your phone out of arm’s reach. Put it and your tablet across the room. If you need to be ruthless, be ruthless. Remove your Favorites, Bookmarks, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. from your desktop or laptop. Turn off notifications from NYTimes.com or whatever news sites draw you in. Unfollow Twitter and Facebook accounts that provide you absolutely no value. A lawyer I know even blocked someone on Twitter solely to make it harder for themself to waste time looking at the Twitterer’s tweets.
2. Remove Yourself
When one of my partners had something that demanded his complete concentration for a sustained period, he spent the day in a conference room. His assistant let him know if something really needed his attention and he took breaks. He wasn’t hiding; the conference rooms each had a full glass wall. It worked because he unabashedly managed his distractions by removing himself from his office.
Pre-pandemic many attorneys I know, including solos and lawyers in all size firms, used to go to libraries and other quiet, even not so quiet, public places to avoid their typical distractions and get special projects done. Lots of coffee shops also fit the bill. Filled with a variety of people mostly typing quietly, lawyers found those places buzzed with a productive energy. It’s the kind of “getting stuff done” vibe that makes you self-conscious about constant texting, surfing, and other distractions. You are there for a reason. Do it.
Of course the pandemic has changed our working environments and options. Because of WFH, distractions come in new shapes and sizes – school aged “co-workers”, pets and/or spouses as co-working space colleagues, food, and household chores, to name just a few.
Keep in mind that, perhaps with the exception of small children, you still have Tip 1 – the power to remove personal distractions of your own making. Although figuring out where you can remove yourself to is likely harder in the pandemic, the strategy in Tip 2 remains the same.
Please contact me if you would like help learning to manage all types of distractions.