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Minimize Distractions To Have An Efficient Day

Jun 20, 2024

An ER attending physician once asked me how to avoid distractions while working in the emergency department. Things are unpredictable there. It is often a chaotic scene. You do not know who rolls in and what surprises await you.

No doubt there are certain working environments which are more challenging to stay focused. In the emergency department, physicians constantly face with disruptions of any kind. Physicians in different specialties also experience different interruptions. These external forces of interruptions are unpredictable. Some are unavoidable. There may be urgent situations. There may phone calls, messages, or other disruptions outside of the workplace that affects your workflow.

There are also the internal distractions, the ones you produce. There is the distraction from thinking about your distractions. There is the desire to do something else because the other thing is tempting, is easier to accomplish, is your temporary escape route. The real task you are supposed to do is not something you enjoy doing. Your task is difficult or boring or not challenging enough. Your mind is wandering off to focus on what the next episode of your favorite TV series is like. You wonder what new posts on social media are interesting.

All these are part of life. We all face some type of distractions throughout the day, which prevents us from continuing or concentrating on the task we are doing. The difference is how we handle the distractions and stay efficient.

How you talk to yourself is important. There is always an internal dialog between you and yourself, whether you are conscious of it or not. Acknowledge that you are prone to distraction and you can do something about it. We are all human beings and we do our best to pay attention. Sometimes we do too well of a job and try to pay attention to everything around us. It does not work that way. Our mind is designed to only focus on one thing at a time.

Take care of your basic needs. Make sure you have adequate sleep, exercise and keep a healthy diet. You can be easily distracted if you are not well-rested. It is also harder for you to focus. Have nutritious meals. Eat regularly. I get distracted easily when I am hungry. My stomach growls disproportionately louder than the degree of my hunger. When that happens, no matter what I am doing, my focus is shifted to figuring out how to decrease the volume of the stomach growl if I cannot eat at that time.

How you start your day affects how you handle distractions. Be intentional to set the stage. I invite you to come up with your own sentence, you own chant to start your day. For example, you can say that you will focus and minimize distractions throughout the day. This likely causes you to feel empowered, hopeful or excited.

Take a deep breath. Take a step back. You can handle this. Tackle one thing at a time. Set aside the rest of the items on your to-do list while you are working on your task at hand.

Take scheduled breaks, regular breaks. You get the chance to clear your mind and recharge. This will help you focus better and eliminate distractions easier.

Schedule certain time slots for checking office messages and non-work related messages. Turn off any message or text notifications while at work. Most people are tempted to check what is behind of the notification and get distracted by your own curiosity. This is not the time to be curious. In this situation, curiosity disrupts focus and efficiency.

Finally, celebrate. Celebrate throughout the day. Find any reason to celebrate. Celebrate that you are on time. Celebrate you successfully ward off a distraction. Celebrate anything. When you celebrate, the pleasant emotion generated helps you focus better and minimizes things which may become distractions to you.

Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?


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