Lack of Concentration=Less Productivity

What is the cost of distraction within the workplace?  Do the math… if it takes approximately 20-ish minutes to return to the point of focus prior to a distraction, social media continues to increase our level of distraction, well you get the picture. Ongoing distractions impact our ability to concentrate. We live in a world that is fully aware of this problem, creating terms like continuous partial attention (CPA), and apps to deal with it. Continual distraction is bad for not just workplace productivity and profit, it is bad for employee health and wellness too.

“We have known for a long time that repeated interruptions affect concentration. In 2005, research carried out by Dr Glenn Wilson at London’s Institute of Psychiatry found that persistent interruptions and distractions at work had a profound effect. Those distracted by emails and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, twice that found in studies on the impact of smoking marijuana. More than half of the 1,100 participants said they always responded to an email immediately or as soon as possible, while 21% admitted they would interrupt a meeting to do so. Constant interruptions can have the same effect as the loss of a night’s sleep.” (Source: “The Lost Art of Concentration”)


Dr. Wilson’s 2005 research shows a clear correlation between distraction and concentration.   Social media distractions have grown substantially since his study subsequently so have the impacts. So the question becomes, knowing their is a negative impact on employee health and wellness, as well as positive organizational outcomes, why do we fail to address the issue?  The more distracted we are, the harder it is to concentrate. This dynamic leads to higher anxiety and stress as employees try to do more in less time, rushed, and with less attention to details.  Again, the outcome for companies and employees is not a positive one.

Creating an environment that requires, and supports mindfulness is difficult as our culture continues to veer in the opposite direction; however, it is necessary unless management is ready to lean into and accept lower productivity and an ongoing reduction in quality.  Employers are in the midst of normalization of deviation due to social media which results in both short and long term losses.




Self Promotion, Introvert Doesn’t Always Equal Shy

“A lot of people assume I’m an extrovert because I’m not shy. I associate more with introversion because I am energized by being alone–in both my work and free time.”

The link below is currently my favorite article, with my new favorite “go to” reminders. I’m an introvert, but unless you know me very well, you would not sense it.  There in is the glitch as others’ expectations might not jive with my needed mode of operation, and at times, it is challenging to draw the line.  Frankly, that can be an issue for extroverts too, the “how do I say no” scenario.  So the following article while written by an introvert has something for everyone.

Added bonus:  There is excellent advice for self promoting and/or marketing in the article that applies whether you are an introvert or extrovert.

Urgent vs. Important

It is true, many of us work and/or live in environments that are fueled by doing what is ‘urgent’.  The question is, who defines what is urgent?

It is important to occasionally take a step back and review your own mission, goals, etc. and determine if your daily actions and activities are leading you towards your definition of positive outcomes and success, that which is important. Or, are you trapped in someone else’s cycle of urgency?



“No” is a complete response.

I had the great pleasure of spending sometime this week with a friend and colleague, Deborah Siegel, PhD.  While talking with Deborah, she shared something amazing. She said she has a place in her office where she marks down when she says ‘no.’

So why is saying no a big deal?  Because most of us, especially women, struggle with saying ‘no’, and saying no without having to explain why, etc.  The ramifications can be significant when we fail to draw, and stick to the boundaries we need to be successful on our own terms.  Here is a perfect example involving my own lapse.  I over committed in the last few months.  Some of the stuff I committed to I love and would do anytime I was asked.  Some of it was because I felt I ‘should’ even though time wise I knew it would mean 4am or 5am starts to the work day and 11pm ends to the work day.  What happened was due to being over committed, over worked, and under rested I began to slip up on things.

Specifics…The May TEDx event I organized and ran required a lot of work pre, during and post event work with caterers, budgets, social media, ticket sales, accounting, speakers, etc.  I LOVED doing that event, and deeply enjoyed the speakers that come on board.  Being over committed I was not able to fully entrench myself the way I wanted to.  Also updating TEDx web site required text often happened prior to 5am or after 10pm, or even on the fly via my cell phone, not ideal.  And yes, I did it at 100 mph and managed to misspell one of the speaker’s name, not only in the original program for the event, but also on the TEDx video bio.  I guarantee you this would not have happened if I had not over committed to things that really weren’t as meaningful and/or valuable.  I got lucky, the speaker, Katy Hansell, caught it prior to the program going to print, and on the web site, which I then updated.  Even luckier for me, is Katy is truly a generous person and made me feel like I was not an idiot for screwing it up.  But we all know that doesn’t always happen, and very often people will zoom in on the 1% you missed rather than the 99% amazing stuff you got done.

All this is to say, saying ‘no’ not only supports you, your mission, your business/employer, your family, etc. by empowering you to give your best, it is also a necessary thing to do.  The word “no” does not require an explanation, nor does it need to involve feeling bad.  One of the greatest lies in our culture is that we should be able to do everything, all the time and be the most amazing person in the history of the world at it.  WRONG.  You should do what you do best, and leave the other stuff to someone else who can do it best.  Saying ‘no’ not only helps you up your game, it allows someone else to shine with the opportunity you are turning down.

And yes, I am now proudly tracking when I say ‘no.’

Want to check out the two amazing women noted in this post?  Visit Deborah Siegel, PhD, she does amazing things, by clicking here.  And visit Katy Hansell, who also does amazing things by clicking here.


Ignore Them

Setting a goal is the easy part.  Staying focused is when the challenges kick in.  And perhaps one of the biggest distractions on the path to achieving a goal is when others question your goal.

Recently I coordinated a TEDx event.  One of the speakers, a successful English Channel swimmer noted the feedback she often got/gets in regards to such an accomplishment is negative feedback.  You see people tend to belittle or deconstruct your goals, for reasons that have nothing to do with you.  Bottom line, if you succeed in doing whatever amazing, juicy, courageous thing you’ve set out to do, it reminds others that setting and reaching goals is possible.

Expect a direct correlation between the size of your goal and the negative pushback you receive, the greater the goal, the greater the pushback.  Expect it, but do not accept or internalize it.  Other people’s criticism most of the time, close to all of the time, has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.


What Is Beneath The Surface?

What is beneath the surface of your decisions?  Do you even consider what the motivators might be for deciding and acting the way you do?  While “critical thinking” is a fairly common term and practice, what about “critical awareness”? Critical thinking involves looking into data, etc. when pursuing a decision or outcome.  Critical awareness takes the critical thinking process and additional step.

Critical awareness is looking at data and forming decisions/pursuing outcomes with the knowledge of social, community and overall societal factors as part of the consideration. Example, John makes a critical thinking decision based on raw ROI data and it ends up blowing up. Why?  Because community and societal factors (critical awareness) were not considered, i.e. the consumer was not engaged.  Critical awareness provides a larger canvas of possible outcomes.  It provides the ‘why’ that drives the ‘what.’

While critical awareness can be an individual tool, it can also be applied to examining and demystifying the mass market. Critical awareness can best be explained by the following:  critical awareness=determining who benefits from each potential decision path’s outcome.


The Neuroscience Of Positive Leadership

Research on the neuroscience of positive leadership, to me, seems like the best idea ever!  If you have positive leadership, creating a positive organizational culture, things start to take care of themselves, ROI, productivity fall into place.

Ratty Transgressions

There are all types of very important, official sounding words to describe group/team conflict dynamics.

We can talk about proportional or perceptual conflict, but what it all boils down to on most occasions when conflict goes from productive to toxic is what I like to call “rats in a cage conflict.”

“Rats in a cage conflict” is the scenario when there appears (real or not) to be more work and less time for those within the dynamic to get it all done. Basically, scarce resources, primal instincts equal turning on each other. The result is the dual ratty transgressions of finger-pointing and off-loading responsibilities. A simpler term is “drama.”

The key to resolution is within the observation of the dynamic and workload as a whole. As noted above, the fall out can come from a scenario that is perceived and not real? How? Burnout and even stress can skew our outlooks. We fail to appropriately address and manage our time. For instance, recently someone shared they don’t have enough time for all that is required of them. Upon further evaluation, turns out he does have enough time, the time however was not being managed well. Often just the stress of the known combined with the unknown timeline of when the flood will abate is enough for folks to disconnect from appropriate time management skills, and the downward spiral begins.

Perceived work versus actual work can be two very different things. When our time management component snaps due to misperception, the toxic fallout will spread to additional employees and the dominos begin to fall.

So how do you address the situation?  You can address it in several ways.  Time management resources help, continued communication helps, accountability helps, and planning helps.  If someone is overwhelmed have them map out their duties and time management plan.  Boom, whining goes away and you can identify if the problem is real or perceived.

Arrow SIgns - Not My Fault Shifting Blame