Michael Sterling



If you’ve ever seen the movie “Up” then you’re familiar with Dug the dog being distracted by a squirrel. There are lots of squirrels in life – especially at the office. In order to minimize those disruptions, I use a number of trusted methods to defeat distractions.


9 Hacks to Defeat Distractions


  1. Alexa. I rely on Alexa – Amazon’s electronic personal assistant – for a couple of things. When I need a resource for some quick information, a verbal request to Alexa gets me a speedy reply. I don’t need to switch gears to conduct an internet search. Also, Alexa provides music or ‘white noise’. Despite what teachers told me in my youth, music does help me focus. It envelops my thought process and buffers out annoying office and/or street noise.  I can select a wide variety of music through Alexa and keep a toe-tapping pace on my projects.
  2. Headphones. For those times when I crave absolute quiet – noise canceling headphones do the trick. Having a set on hand is invaluable.
  3. Don’t be Hangry. An empty stomach leads to a bad mood and low productivity. Have some healthy, power snacks on hand to put a halt to hangry.
  4. Creature Comfort. Make sure you’re comfortable. Being too hot or too cold can derail your day. If your office tends to be warm, a desk-size personal fan can help make work a breeze. If your office remains at sub-zero temps, try a personal heater. It’s amazing how cold feet affect the brain.
  5. Schedule Quiet Time. What time of day are you at your best? Grab a slice of that time and designate it for focused, uninterrupted work. Put it on your calendar and guard that hour or two as sacred and untouchable.
  6. Communicate to Colleagues. Now that you have scheduled quiet time to work uninterrupted, tell your colleagues when you’re not available. Whether you communicate it directly, use the firm-wide calendar, or put a white board on your door with restricted hours – be sure to share that information with co-workers. Ask them to respect your focus time, as well as let them know when you will be available to speak with them.
  7. Block Your Clock. When you need and want time to focus – the clock can be your enemy. Watching the clock steals valuable time. Disable the clock on your computer and take off your watch – especially if it’s a smart watch. Instead, set a notification to signal when you need to wrap up and move on to the next project or meeting.
  8. Shut ‘em down. Reduce temptation. Close down all unnecessary tabs and programs on your computer. Keep open only what is key to completing the project at hand.
  9. Clean it up. Don’t just close down computer tabs – clean up your desk area. Sticky notes, reminders and un-related paperwork all seem scream for attention at the most inopportune moments.


How Do You Defeat Distractions?


Those are my hacks to defeat distractions. What are yours? Let me know.


SterlingFreeman provides career coaching and recruiting exclusively for Public Accountants. Connect with me on LinkedIn.


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