Gaining traction in the times of distractions

We’re still amidst one of the most dangerous pandemics of the past 100 years. And quite likely, this is going to continue for another few months before the numbers come to a crawling halt. Hopefully. 

As leaders, however, hope isn’t a reliable strategy. We would need something concrete to keep our heads afloat during times like these. That is the only way we can effectively lead our teams, businesses, and relationships. 

For starters, we have to try not getting distracted. Which means, we need to be more conscious of the information sources we’re exposed to. Remember, more than ever, information is power. But there’s a crapton of it out there! Most of the information are either factually correct or politically charged or worse, agenda driven! 

It’s overwhelming. But you’ve got to have more agency on the information you consume. I’ve been on an restricted information diet the past couple of months and it has helped me immensely to focus on my personal and professional priorities. 

  1. I’m turning the “off” switch more often. This applies to my phone, computer, and the internet. No information comes through when they’re shut off and it’s so damn liberating. I have a lot of mindspace to think and reflect on my goals, challenges, and concepts that I need to develop further. I also get ample time to bond with my family and friends (although I have to call them using my landline, which is surprisingly being used so much more these days.) 
  2. When you’re working, do the work! I’m serious. People don’t get it. They have an urge to stay on top of all those spammy or forwarded text/WhatsApp messages. Or perhaps some random email that will keep them listlessly busy for the next 30 minutes. And then complain they don’t have enough time for work. Believe me, they do. They just don’t want to stay focused on one thing because it’s boring. 
  3. Read less. This of course, doesn’t apply to books. I’m referring to reading less on the Internet. If you must, read publications you trust, which is so rare. I read a handful of blogs by authors I respect and admire for their independent thinking. For the rest, I prefer to pay than get it for free because I genuinely believe that free information is dangerous. The great thing about paying for information, in my opinion, is that you will restrict yourself to a very few sources. (Unless you’re Bill Gates and subscribe to 343 publications!*)
  4. Become a curator. Since you will be reading less and from trusted sources only, I think you’ve got a great opportunity to become a curator of trusted information. You just need to have the right intent and eye for details to get very good at this. Believe me, now is a great time for curators to make a mark. Start with reviewing curated newsletters in your area of expertise to stay on top of your industry. Create your own curated newsletter and send it to your colleagues, peers, and friends. And I believe, curators are leaders.
  5. Check email less. I know this could be problematic for working professionals but I don’t think the world is going to end if you check emails just thrice a day! It’s other people’s agenda anyway. If you genuinely think your work depends on you staying top of your emails, you’re better off tweaking your approach to checking them once every 90 minutes instead of living inside your Inbox. Believe me, you aren’t paid to check and respond to emails (though it feel like that at times)! 

As a leader, you must remember that in times of chaos, less is always more. Make sure, however, that the “less” is more meaningful. That’s how you gain traction in a time of distraction. 

*that’s a joke, okay!?

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