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Distractions & the Art of Ignoring

As little kids, we’re taught to never ignore others. These are ingrained manners that are socially acceptable. However, this training hurts in the business world. The negative connotations of ignoring is another 20th Century concept that needs to be abandoned.

Since the invention of the smartphone, which places communication of all types at our fingertips, pockets and purses, the “Art of Ignoring” has never been more relevant.

If you can’t ignore, you will constantly be bombarded with distractions. Especially as an Executive or Manager, the need for learning this art is paramount.

Ignoring is NOT about disrespect but boundaries. Learning to set boundaries is the basis of ignoring in business. You must be able to set boundaries to guard your most precious asset: Time.

Boundaries allow you to work uninterrupted. The constant bombardment from electronic devices we endure during our waking hours, not just business, is massive. These are the distractions that suck your valuable time and divert your attention from what matters.

Managing the level of distractions in your life is a 21st Century time management technique, something our parents or parent’s parents never even contemplated. That’s because the amount of potential distractions in our daily life has grown exponentially.

And, the level of distractions continue to ratchet up with the release of the Apple Watch, where notifications are less than an arm’s length away, blowing up your wrist, instead of your pocket or purse.

So, the Art of Ignoring really is about the art of boundaries. Since our daily business life typically involves people, then the most important concept in the Art of Ignoring is managing people. And, managing people comes down to managing expectations. That stops and start with “teaching others how to treat you.”

While the Art of Ignoring could be a college semester course, here are some overall concepts and tips to take in and deploy. These Actionable suggestions will give you an introduction to this art.

  • Checking email.
    • Turn off the email notification feature on your smartphone and computer entirely. Or, at least turn it off on weekends.
    • Use the Out of Office feature in your email software for night and weekends.
  • Phone Calls & Voicemail
    • Never answer a call. Send ALL calls to voicemail. This allows you to TRIAGE the Weight of the Request
    • NEVER , EVER answer a Blocked number. EVER.
    • Do NOT take calls outside of your “regular” office hours. If your “basic” availability is 9-5, NEVER take a work call outside those times, even from your Boss. Same goes for CHECKING voicemail.
    • Don’t respond to voicemails that say simply “call me.” You can email them and ask them what they want and instruct them that “for a faster response, make sure to tell me the nature or topic of your call when you leave me a voicemail.”

The Art of Ignoring is really a lost skill that we all can learn to utilize more fully.

Written by Pat Mixon.

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Pat Mixon
Pat Mixon is a Time & Efficiency Expert and the founder of Executive Training Camp, the world’s premier place for 21st Century training, strategies, and systems that allow Manager, Executives, and Business Owners to take their game to the next level. Pat’s in the business of giving people BACK THEIR TIME. Pat writes about and helps individuals learn new systems and strategies around Time Management, Delegation, Email Management, To Do Lists, Meeting Management, Making Decisions, and Managing/Working Remotely and more. He is also managing partner at The Infrastructure Company. Visit his website at: ExecTrainingCamp.com and his firm’s consulting website for finance, accounting, operations and technology at TheInfrastructureCompany.com.
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