By Barb Paszyn

When you least expect it, the monster eats away at ideas and thoughts. It uses digital technology against us, from email pop-ups to phone message alerts. Once you’ve been lured in, it’s difficult to escape and re-orient yourself so you don’t lose any more irreplaceable work time. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a dangerous monster that’s become stronger in the last few years and we’ve all experienced its impact at work.

According to this New York Times article once the monster pounces, it can take 25 minutes before you find your work “groove” again. Is it possible, with all these technological advances intended to make communication seamless and lightning fast, that we’ve somehow become less productive because of digital technology? 

Not if I have something to say about it! We can beat this digital monster! Here are some strategies that have worked for me:

  • Use headphones. Listening to music helps me focus on the task at hand and ignore the text message alerts and other digital sounds around me. Sometimes I’ll even use noise canceling headphones without turning on the tunes. What happens if there’s a virtual fire behind me? Too bad. I’m in my zone of NO distractions!  
  • Schedules are king. Use a timetable. Literally. Allocate a certain amount of time per task in your calendar. You’ll be surprised how much less distracted you become when you know you have a specific amount of time to complete a task.
  • Ignore your emails. Along with scheduling, check emails only at certain times and stick to the schedule! This will help keep you from constantly looking at your inbox and taking ‘just a minute’ to respond to something.
  • Put your phone away. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is what I think about when I’m reminding myself to do this very thing. It takes practice but you will get used to tucking your phone into your bag or your coat, and leaving it alone.
  • Work from a home office (if you can). This is the ultimate escape! We practice this at work and it has allowed many of us to get our work done faster.

Hopefully this helps you escape the monster of digital distraction. It’s not easy but there are ways to mitigate it.

Anyways, I need to go… I can hear my phone buzzing! (Honest, I’m sure it’s a VERY important message).