As a coach and consultant for many practitioners, business owners, and managers over the years, I run into a consistent and recurring problem. The issue that I often hear from clients is that they are feeling overwhelmed, burnt-out, frustrated, all alone in the business, and I even hear clients tell me that they are in a foul mood. That is a clear sign that someone is not running at 100% of their potential. The issue can be temporary, or there could be foundational problems that need to be corrected to eliminate the unwanted feeling.
We all come up with “excuses” of why we are stuck and unable to modify our normal routine for a different result, however there is one thing you will be able to bet on; settling and refusing to take action will only serve to prolong a bad situation. This will adversely affect your business, your team, and your personal life.
Devices – Technology can come in the form of devices that are fantastic tools that allow us to bring many parts, if not all, of our business on the go with us. However, these devices should be used as just that; a tool. There is a tremendous amount of literature showing the addictive tendencies that people show towards their cell phones, tablets, and other devices while on social media or while surfing the internet. These devices affect our lives more than most want to admit. They can have influence or control over what we experience and how we think throughout our day. What we see on social media, our news alerts, our most recent watched YouTube video, etc. can greatly influence our mood and attitude for the rest of the day. So, limit your usage. If you think that you don’t spend a great amount of time on your cell phones, tablets, and other devices, consider looking at your app usage under your settings in your device. Most people are surprised to learn how much time they spend doing pointless things. They say you are the sum of your five closest friends, so why shouldn’t your top five apps you use define you as well? Look at your usage for these top five apps over a month and decide if that is what’s most advantageous for you and your time. The current literature suggests the average person spends five hours per day on their devices. That equates to 76 days per year looking into a device!
Distractions – Picture your workplace in your mind; are you at peace in that vision? Are you anxious? Can you fully concentrate on the things that are crucial to what you are trying to accomplish at work? Everyone has different conditions in which they are able to concentrate, but there are some distractions that will definitely make your work life much more difficult than it needs to be. While our devices may keep us connected to the outside world, they also become a huge source of distraction while at work. Even just feeling the vibration from an alert may prompt an immediate reaction of grabbing the phone and checking whatever message just arrived. You may also feel “ghost” vibrations because of how alert and sensitive you are to your phone. Talk about a new version of Pavlov’s experiment! Smart watches are also another source of that same distraction. While these are great tools for reminders and emergency notifications, there must be a line drawn during the day of how much attention you are giving these devices.
Lack of Focus – A lack of focus is a byproduct of distractions. Distractions may be a great cause of a lack of focus during your work hours, and it seems easy to see how your devices may be affecting your focus throughout the day. Between all of the distractions on phones like texts, email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and, let’s not forget, the “productivity apps”, there’s no wonder why some can’t focus. If you had a surgeon treating you, you would want to be their number one priority while under their care. Yet, some of you are in the surgeon’s/doctor’s/dentist’s shoes and are still allowing for these distractions to curb your focus.
Change Your Mindset
Let’s face it; people use devices for everything from business tasks to mindless games. Since social media has taken a huge role in the majority of people’s lives, it is not shocking that social media has made its way into the business world. Having a Facebook page, Instagram page, Twitter page, etc. for your business is the norm these days because it is such a great way to reach out to people. However, there is a place and time for running these different pages. If you are at work, spending time relaxing, or hanging out with family or friends, you can turn these notifications off. The next friend request, follower, or fan of your page will still be there when you jump back on. So, schedule time to manage these pages. You can do the same thing for your personal accounts, your texts, your emails, etc. Turn these notifications on mute while you’re at the office or having personal time. You can allow certain notifications to come through from your family, etc. in case of an emergency, but you can mute all the distractions that hinder your focus throughout the day.
Choose to Disconnect
- Make a deliberate effort to control your use of devices instead of allowing the opposite. Make the device work for you.
- Leave your devices in another room when you go to bed at night.
- Don’t touch your device for the first 30 minutes of your day.
- Put your phone on silent, turn off the cellular and Wi-Fi data, or the phone off when you are “disconnecting”.
- Keep all devices out of reach when you are speaking with customers, team members, and business acquaintances. The conversations will always take longer if you get distracted. Also, constantly looking at your device de-prioritizes the other member of the conversation.
- Don’t allow devices into meetings or trainings. If the team struggles with this concept, it only serves to prove the addictive nature of devices.
- Use a written journal to reflect on what happened during the day, what could’ve gone better, what things could’ve run smoother, or what actually went well. Don’t just dwell on the negatives, be proud of your accomplishments throughout the day and remind yourself that you’re in the business of helping people and that you deserve some rest & relaxation.
Leverage Your Device
- Use your device to plan out your day so that you can find time for relaxation. As much as our culture has evolved into “grinding” every hour of the day, there is time where your body and mind need you to put on the brakes and find some time for yourself.
- Use your device to plan for the day ahead. The best time will be the morning hours and second best is the evening before. This will help you with focusing on your duties at work and will give you confidence for the day ahead.
- Use your device to set time aside for activities or a hobby to help you recharge. It may appear to be small or insignificant, but this could be the catalyst to maintaining a healthy attitude, preserving long standing employees, and fueling the passion for growth.
- Use your device to plan time for your health (i.e. working out, walking the dog, etc.). Physical health is 100% related to your mental health.
- Use your device to improve and better yourself. This may include enlightening yourself through reading or research on topics that you are interested in. This may include something motivational, something about your profession, or something about a hobby you like to learn about.
- Use your device to block out time in your schedule to deal with responding to emails, texts, etc.
Some of you will struggle with these concepts. However, the feeling of being “available” may only be turning you or your team into reactionary fire fighters instead of purpose-driven individuals exceeding your own goals. Change your habits, stop being a firefighter and get focused on feeling great as you arrive at your destination.