The Long View: Big Problems with Minor Distractions

Ken Mergentime is executive editor of Sign & Digital Graphics and WRAPS magazines.

If you are running a sign shop or commercial graphics business today, chances are your days are pretty busy—maybe even a little chaotic at times when deadlines for multiple orders converge, or when someone calls in sick or a printer breaks down and the work backs up. Some days it's hard to get things done because of everything that's going on.

You know the feeling. When your day is hijacked by a pointless meeting, a demanding client, or a needy team member. Or, perhaps worse, when you have no one to blame but yourself for procrastinating, and now your back is against the wall with a big deadline.

Staying focused and productive during these busy periods is tough enough, but it's even tougher when distractions are pulling you this way and that. Granted, some things happen that you can't avoid, but also it's important to minimize or eliminate the impact of the smaller time-wasting distractions that add up and get in the way.

After all, as a business owner you know it's a big enough job to simply make sure your business stays profitable, that your vendors get paid, that your employees get paid... and most importantly, that you get paid by the clients who hire you to do jobs. They say "don't sweat the little stuff," but how can you cut down on the little distractions you experience in a day?

Well, you can start by doing something about all those smart phones, laptop computers, tablets, and fit watches that clutter your life and niggle away at your attention. You don't have to be relentlessly bombarded with electronic “pings” and text alerts that constantly pull at you. And experts say that millennials may be the most distracted generation in the workplace when it comes to this—and it's not just management, but workers as well.

According to recent research from Udemy.com, an online learning platform aimed at professional adults, 69% of workers said they are digitally distracted at work, with 36% of millennials and Gen-Zs reporting that they spend two or more hours per work day looking at their phones for personal activities. Facebook is the number one distraction, according to the study.

As you can imagine, these kinds of distractions quickly add up. And over time, the effects of lost focus and lower productivity are tremendous. If you want to make a dent in your distraction level and get more work accomplished, you need to intentionally create more focus in your day. Try turning off app notifications on your smart phone, tablet and/or fit watch during work hours. They are mostly there to remind you to engage with the product. But these can be the primary culprits of distraction and lost focus. Turn off the apps that are not critical for daily use.

Okay, back to work.