What is with the level of distraction these days? It’s a huge problem with teams right now. You might think you’re just checking your watch or taking a quick peek at your phone, but during that instant you’re not making eye contact with people who are talking because you’re thinking about everything else that you have going on.

It may seem innocent and innocuous and like everybody’s doing it, but it negatively affects not only your own mental health, but your relationship with your colleagues.

In the first case it adds to your own distraction and creates anxiety at a time when we already have more than enough on our plates. And in the second case it makes your coworker wonder if you’re not looking at and listening to them because you don’t really care. It affects how your manager thinks about you too. “So-and-so seems really distracted and overwhelmed; I wonder if they can handle this workload.” That’s not a good path to be on if you want your manager to feel confident in you and trust you with bigger assignments and better promotions.

Being distracted may seem like it’s innocuous, no big deal. But “I was just taking a peek at my phone” isn’t how other people experience it. They’re experiencing it as you being disconnected, maybe uncaring, perhaps even not competent.

They’re worried that you’re not going to be dependable or reliable because ‘Did you even hear what we just agreed to?’ That makes your integrity take a hit, and there are big consequences for letting yourself be so distracted that people wonder about your character as a person.

Turn off your phone and focus. If you blow it, that’s okay, just say “Sorry, I blew it, I got distracted. Can we wait on this meeting until I’ve finished this presentation and my head is here?” You could even just ask “can we pop into a quiet room so I can actually focus?” Just ask for what you need.

Please understand that your relationships pay the price for you being distracted. That means how you’re perceived by others, and your own mental health, will suffer for it. The only way we’re going to make headway here is to get way better at prioritizing. Here’s how to do a better job at deprioritizing things so we can focus on the stuff that matters most.

More on this

Tired of People Being Distracted and Disrespectful?

Prioritize Means Deprioritize

Why You’re So Busy and How to Ruthlessly Prioritize

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