Dealing with Distractions

How to stay on task even when people distract you.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #67

Since it’s outside that brings us back, we’re going to create an outside tool to save us from distraction. This tip is from Carol Gignoux of ADD Insights, and this episode’s transcript links to a full interview with her. She’s a woman after my own heart. She recommends using a pad and paper. She calls it your “capture pad.”

Capture the Distraction and Keep Working

Grab a pad of paper. I use a small sticky pad. When an outside distraction happens don’t be distracted! Instead, jot down the distraction on your sticky pad and send it away. Then, when you reach a handy breaking point, check your pad and follow up on any distractions that need attention. For instance, let’s say my friend Bernice drops by to drop off her sales figures and show off her latest lycra-and-rhinestone jumpsuit and matching clutch. It is shiny. You say politely, “Thanks for the sales figures, Bernice! I’d love to discuss your outfit, but I’m in the middle of a report. I’ll swing by your office as soon as I’m at a breaking point. See you soon!” As soon as the afterimages fade, jot down on your sticky pad, “visit Bernice,” and keep working. When you’re done with your Southwest Sales Report, you look down at your pad and know it’s time to grab some anti-nausea medication and head off to see Bernice’s new outfit.

Capture the Work and Keep Distracting

Sometimes, though, the distraction really is more important. If you’ve been pursuing a most excellent job candidate for the last six months, and that candidate drops by your office for one last chat before they accept the job offer, taking the meeting might be more important than finishing your report. In that case, your little pad will once again save you. Only this time, don’t jot down the interruption; jot down where you were in your report and what the next steps are. “Just incorporated Bernice’s sales figures, about to calculate totals for the region.” Now you can give your candidate your full attention, knowing that as soon as you’re done, a quick glance at your sticky pad will help you get right back into your sales report where you left off.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.