Industry News

How do you handle distractions that break your concentration and focus?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How do you handle distractions that break your concentration and focus?

  • I ignore them as best I can and press on: 14.75%
  • I accept the interruption, take a break, then get back to work: 76.75%
  • Nothing ever distracts me enough to break concentration: 1.89%
  • I completely lose focus and give up on the task for a long time: 6.61%

Deal with it and move on. Interruptions are a part of life and they're pervasive both at work and at home (especially when working from home). The vast majority of you see them as a cue to take a break then get back to work. Just be careful that it doesn't sap your productivity. Do what you can to minimize interruptions because you're not only giving up the time of the break but also time to get your mind back in the mode of what it was working on. Find a dedicated work space and make an agreement with those who might interrupt you as to when it is or isn't OK to interrupt. You have to take active control over your work environment lest it end up dictating how productive or unproductive you are.


Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."