Digital Distractions : Defeat them before getting Defeated

Have you ever started working on a task and just after a few minutes you started going through the notifications on your phone?

Or you were sitting at the dinner table with your family but you were busy thinking about what notifications would have popped up in your phone or how many people would have seen the Instagram story you posted an hour back?

If you have faced anything like this, you’re part of a secret club known as Endless Distractions. (Don’t worry, you aren’t alone there)

It’s the same case with your everyday routine at work.

According to a survey by Udemy, 3 in 4 people feel that they’re distracted when they’re on the job, with 16% going on to state that they almost always feel distracted.

Is there a solution to this pandemic of distraction?

Yes.

Thankfully, there are four such solutions, straight from the brilliant mind of Robin Sharma, the bestselling author of The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life.

Let’s have a look at them.

Build a tight bubble of total focus – Enable FLOW

The ding of a new email. The constant chatter of your co-workers. The buzz of your Instagram notification. The meeting you don’t even know why you have to attend.

All this takes away those few and precious productivity hours at work.

According to a report titled “Digital distraction and workplace safety”, employees spend about 2.5 hours daily accessing digital content that is not related to their profession.

But that itself is just half of the problem.

The other is that after being distracted, it takes almost 25 minutes to get back on track.

So each time your employees use their phones, they are leaving attention residue on their phones.

A part of them is still thinking about the rollercoaster ride they saw on an Instagram post and how fun it’d be to experience that on their vacation.

This makes it even harder to focus on the actual work and get into the optimal performance zone called ‘FLOW’

What can you do to change this?

  • Encourage them to leave their phones in their drawer. Set an example by doing so yourself. Educate them on why it is so important.
  • Fix an hour or two every day in the morning when employees can work in total focus and get into the flow. No using phones, no meetings, no co-worker chats. Just give them this time to themselves and see for yourself the rise in productivity.
  • Try to minimize work mails. Have a strict policy not to send work emails in the morning so that the few productive hours in the morning are actually spent doing real work.

 

No phone conversations

How would you feel if you are out on lunch with your friend and for the entire time, he is busy on his phone, scrolling and texting and what not?

You’d feel disrespected, right?

The most valuable thing you can give to another person, be it your colleague or manager, is your undivided attention.

So as an entrepreneur show that to your employees. When you’re in a meeting with them, put your phone on silent. If you get a call, pick up that call and tell them that you’d call them back later. Let your employees know that you value their time.

Encourage the ‘no phone conversations’ culture by educating your employees about it.

This not only makes everyone in the workplace a better person but also teaches them how to live in the moment, how to be present where they are.

This automatically leads to increased focus at work.

Construct your own Menlo park

We have all heard of Thomas Edison and how good he was at invention. By the time of his death, he had to his name about 1093 patents.

What was the secret behind all these inventions?

The two-word secret was – Menlo park.

It was a laboratory situated on the top of a hill. Edison and his team would go there and spend weeks and weeks working on things without any kind of distraction. Sometimes, they would even work round the clock because they were so immersed in their work.

While the goal is not to work 24*7, the goal is to create the same kind of environment like the one Edison found in Menlo park and as a result increase focus and productivity.

There are several ways to do this:

  • Allow employees uninterrupted work hours. Let them have do-not-disturb placards available so they can put that up on their desk as a sign that they’re working on something important.
  • Have a clean office and desk. Don’t let papers pile away. If your work desk looks like a storm has struck it, you’ll feel the same way.
  • If possible, allot a work-from-home day for those employees that feel productive working from home. Schedule these days in such a way that there is always someone from the team in the office who can handle everything.

Join the 5 am club

Waking up early has a lot of advantages from procrastinating less, staying healthy, increasing happiness to having greater chances of success.

There are many reasons why.

When you learn to fight your excuses first thing in the morning by not snoozing off the alarm because ‘you slept late yesterday’ or ‘you have a stressful day today’, you start on a high note.

You take control of things rather than letting them control you. This helps cultivate a winner’s mindset.

Not only that, you have more uninterrupted/quiet time in the morning to get work done. Add doing a workout, eating a healthy breakfast and meditating and you’re really setting up your life, not just your day to achieve great things.

You can turn this to your advantage by having a yoga session for your employees early in the morning or coming up with innovative ideas like Zumba workouts. This will not only help them wake up early but it will get them to bond with each other as well and increase employee happiness.

The people who join such sessions can then act as an example for the rest of your workforce. Give them a month and then let them write these experiences and the change they are seeing in themselves on a piece of paper. Stick them on the workplace happiness bulletin board and let inspiration seep into your workplace.

Conclusion 

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee

The greatest leaders of the world, the most successful companies of the world and the strongest warriors of the world face the same distractions we do.

They weren’t born with an innate ability to ignore these distractions.

They cultivated it and it might have taken them months to do so but when they did, they turned on the superpower of achievement, greatness and a sense of doing something meaningful.

It is time for you to unlock that superpower with these four simple tips.

 

You might be just 4 steps away from Building a ‘Great Place to Work’

Two friends – Mahesh and Raman started their businesses at the same time. After almost a year, they are meeting each other.

After the pleasantries, Mahesh starts bickering about how nobody at his workplace seems engaged in their work and all they do is look at the clock and count the hours till they can leave the office.

Raman, on the other hand, says that he’s having a pretty good time at the office and he has a pretty engaged and happy workforce.

Upon leaving, Mahesh thinks to himself, “Raman must be paying huge salaries and that’s why he has no problem with his employees.”

Though, the reality is quite different.

More or less, the salaries for both the businesses are similar.

Then why is the situation so different?

According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, 56% of workers ranked a strong workplace culture more important than salary. This number went even higher to almost 75% and 65% for millennials in the UK and USA.

So, what factors should one focus on to build a great workplace?

Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of Mindvalley, talks about four important factors- happiness, growth, abundance and meaning.

Let’s explore these factors in detail:

1.Happiness

Almost one-third of our life is spent at work. Shouldn’t we try to make this time as happy, enriching and fulfilling as possible?

Now imagine this. What if in your workplace everyone tried to support each other instead of downgrading each other, helped solve problems instead of lashing out, celebrated accomplishments instead of gossiping?

Doesn’t this seem like a dream workplace?

Let me share a secret formula to turn this dream into a reality:

  • Encourage social connections: Research states that people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work. Why? Because they are ensured that there is someone at the office who cares for them, who they can share their problems with and count on them to understand, who can make the bad days bearable and maybe even funny. We all need social support, even at the workplace. As an entrepreneur, you can encourage this initiative by fixing a common lunch time, allowing employees to team up on fun/non-work assignments, having a common non-work hour every weekend.
  • Create a Happiness Culture: Encourage employees to appreciate each other. You can start this by having a simple 1-minute appreciation moment every day. In this time, the employee can appreciate their co-workers in any form for the good work they put in yesterday. It could be something simple as “Thanks Sussane. Talking with you made my stress so scared that it ran away” This exercise can really boost up the mood of your employees and encourage them to be helpful and spread Happiness at work. You can then take it forward to build Employee Happiness as a feature of your workplace.
  • Celebrate fun days: Days like family days, culture days, heritage days, poetry day, drawing day, etc. can be celebrated where teammates may connect with each other. A little time may get wasted but in the long term, you’d build greater loyalty, engagement and trust.

2.Growth

What if you walked out of second grade in school with the same knowledge that you had in the first grade?

Wouldn’t a thought pop up in your mind- “What’s the use of going to school then?”

That’s the same with the employees in your workplace. If they don’t feel like they are learning something new, getting a chance to work on challenging projects or growing professionally and personally, the result would be a disengaged and dissatisfied workforce.

Two ways you can aid in their growth:

  • Have a meeting every month: Let the employee’s direct supervisor take a performance review/goal discussion meeting. Let the employee talk about their goals and then the manager can come up with their own feedback and ways to facilitate meeting those goals.
  • Foster personal growth: Apart from professional growth, employees might also have their own personal growth goals. For example, someone might want to learn French, someone might want to write poems. Let them write these goals on a page and stick them all on a bulletin board. People with the same goals can then team up together to achieve them.

3.Meaning

There are two choices in front of you:

A: Work for companies like Tesla, SpaceX or any other company that is on the quest of making the world better and environmental friendly.

B: Work for a company that is shelling out a huge salary but making no difference.

How many of us would pick the first option?

Quite a few of us.

Why?

Because it is fulfilling to give our life a meaning and our life has meaning when we try to do something good for the world. We feel significant when we realize that the work we do is making a difference.

To bring meaning to your organization, ask yourself, “What am I doing and why am I doing it?”

Maybe you’re selling mobiles to help connect people together. Maybe you’re selling cakes to bring a smile on people’s faces.

This becomes the mission of your company. Put this mission on your website and you’ll attract the right kind of talent.

Another way to add meaning to your existing employees’ lives is to give them meaningful goals and to explain to them how their work is important in the bigger picture of things.

4.Abundance

Does abundance mean giving out a good salary to your employees so that they can fulfill all their needs?

Absolutely.

But abundance is a wide term that means creating a company that helps its employees feel abundant in every area of their life.

This could mean various things like giving them abundant time to work on their passion project or to devote time to their families, making sure they have abundant energy left even after a day of work or simply ensuring that their abundant knowledge is respected when they share their ideas or feedback.

What abundance then means is that your company should add exponential value to your employee’s life even after their time with you.

Conclusion

Day by day, we are hearing stories about work becoming more and more stressful and workplaces becoming more and more restrictive.

If we can invent revolutionary products, why can’t we together build revolutionary workplaces as well?

How long will we wait for things to improve on their own?

It’s time to take a step forward and start building workplaces that are great places to be a part of, for both employees and employers.

Great things in business are never done by one person” – Steve Jobs

 

 

3 Path Breaking Steps to Create an Invincible Workforce

Just like any other HR professional or Business leader, I conduct Google search on the following questions frequently.

How do we achieve optimal Organisational performance through employees? What can we do to retain our best employees and help them get even better? How do we help employees cope up stress and prevent burn-out?

Measure performance periodically. Give regular feedback. Engage Employees. Provide State of the Art facilities. Reward high performance. Conduct events. Conduct Team Building Activities.

These are the most frequently given answers to these questions. These measures have been in fashion for the last few generations and applied by almost all Organisations. Well, have we reached peak performance levels from Employees? Is the potential of human body and brain being realised fully?

The answer is NO.

While these answers are not completely wrong, they have helped Organisations go only so far. These measures have been applied by a majority of Organisations and have been effective in shaping employee behaviours at a surface level. What then do we do to go beyond just scratching the surface?

Following are a few measures that Organisations can put in place to tap the Potential of their employees to the maximum extent.

Create FLOW: Several studies have established that FLOW is a state in which Human Beings deliver peak performance. The greatest achievements in Sports, Literature, Science, Art and every other field that we can think of have been results of this experience that specific individuals or teams have created or experienced.

Why not bring this to work? Experts and Experiments proved that FLOW can be created by creating conducive conditions in the Person, the Work and the Workplace. It is up to Business Leaders and HR Leaders to familiarise themselves with FLOW, educate their employees and then go for it all out. The results are not incremental but exponential improvement.

FLOW is an immersive and exciting experience during which individuals forget time and space. They have their creative juices flowing and the results that are achieved while one experiences FLOW are astonishing.  The icing on the cake is, working in the state of FLOW enhances instead of diminishing energy. There are experts and Organisations that can help in creating FLOW. Seek help.

Create Authentic Happiness: Business Leaders and their Management Gurus so far have been scratching on the surface and employing borderline manipulative techniques to involve Employees in business and ‘Engage’ them through various management programs. While these are moderately helpful, they have been making more money and creating business opportunities to the so-called Gurus rather than their clients.

Look beyond these run-of-the-mill programs for real transformational concepts. Help employees look at work and Life from holistic perspective. Put your heart into helping them build authentic happiness by training them on the latest life hacks. Teach them to build authentic relationships at work rather than teaching them just interpersonal skills. Teach them to look at work from a life mission perspective rather than as a survival tool. Conduct programs to help them look at life from a prism of happiness rather than mere day-to-day material gains.

Guess what, you do not need to work in helping employees cope up with stress and burn-out. It gets taken care of automatically.

Create a culture of Total Well-being: Nothing effects human behaviour like culture. Use the power of culture to create an Organisation of absolutely super-healthy employees. While keeping healthy is predominantly an individual’s responsibility, Organisations that help their employees keep themselves healthy are reaping better benefits. Conservative estimates peg the ROI on employee health investments at USD 1.5 per every dollar spent. If Organisations can go beyond half-hearted measures and create a compelling program and show enough persistence, it can make a lot of difference.

After all, an enthusiastic employee enjoying good health when put in FLOW state, can do wonders for himself/herself and the Organisation as well. And why would such an employee ever want to quit your Organisation.

These steps enrich their lives and your Organisation equally through building lasting employee happiness. The mantra is Think New. Think Break-Through. Think Authentic Employee Happiness.

 

Unleashing Myself @ Happy Workplace

Why the hell did you give birth to me, if this is how you treat? I raged, lying in my hospital bed.

How dare you say that!? Retarded Ammi in higher decibels. The next moment, she walked out of the hospital ward, weeping.

Abbu looked confused, whom to console at this point – his ailing daughter, or his broken wife.

He slowly got up from his chair, picked up the glass of water and sat beside me. Have some water, he said, wiping my tears. You should not hurt your mother, with such sharp words. He spoke in a soft voice.

Slowly, I got up and had some water. My throat was aching due to suppressed anger and sorrow.  Tears kept flowing like a breached dam. I lied on my bed, breathing heavily. He sat there still, sometimes caressing my head and at times wiping my tears.

Little later, Ammi walked in. Abbu made way for her and settled on his chair. She quickly sat beside me, holding my hands.

Who knew, life would turn like this? She said wiping my tears. I can’t even imagine; you would ever speak like this. She spoke, lifting my head gently. I turned my head away. I was still so upset.

Say something, urged Ammi.

That was a trigger enough for me to break open.

How long do I go like this?

Where are your other children? Three sons, and two daughters!! All elder to me.

And every one busy enjoying with their family

And I being the youngest girl, have paying off the debts taken to get these bloody jerks married

Don’t you think I have a life too?

A life to enjoy my freedom, be with my friends, and have fun.

Am I the only one to own up your debts?

Ammi and Abbu sat there speechless, as if struck by a thunderbolt.

Why so many loans?

Can’t you manage your finances properly.

Aren’t your kids equally responsible to share the family debts and burdens?

Why did you allow them to go away?

Just shut up! Ammi, could not take it anymore

Dare you not speak like this anymore. Do you think, it was easy for us to raise the six children, with Abbu’s meagre earnings as an auto driver? Are you so grown up, that you challenge your parents today?

Hmmmmm!! Abbu intervened in a deep voice.

Calm down. We are in the hospital, he asserted.

He sat close to me, caressing my head. In a moment, I was back to my senses, as if out of a broken spell.

Sorry Gudiya, I know its my fault. I could not handle my life and family well enough. It’s my inability, which has broken you down. Isn’t it? He asked Ammi. She simply nodded in acknowledgement.

I know, last two years have been really tough for you. You have been working 10-12 hours a day. And as luck would have it, your employer is not able to pay you regular salary. Every day I see you walking to your office, only to save the bus fare of 5 rupees. All through, you have neglected your health, leading to your bed rest for two months and stressed with the mounting hospital bills. It really hurts me, to see you like this. My weak eyesight, does not allow me to work. Else, I would have certainly contributed to our income. I can’t even seek further help from our friends or relatives. Your siblings have also turned my requests down.

I started feeling guilty. How could I be so harsh with my parents. Sorry, Ammi and Abbu. I should not have said that, I got carried away. I never meant to hurt you both. Sorry, please forgive me. And I promise you, never again will I speak to you like this.

Its, okay beta. I understand. Said Ammi. Everything happens for good. I am sure, the Almighty has some better plans. Let us wait and see, what good things are in store for us.

The doorbell rang. Abbu quickly got up to check.

Rizwan is here to see you. He said, welcoming him inside.

How are you feeling? Enquired Rizwan, my fiancé.

Much better now. Am getting discharged tomorrow.

Wow, that’s good, he said in a chirpy voice.

`By the way, I have some good news for you. He added.

Yesterday, Sheela received a job offer from an insurance company. As you know, she is getting married next month, and will not be able to take it up. So, she recommended your name. They will call you next week for an interview.

There was a spurt of joy in the room. Thank you, God! I prayed quietly. Next day, I reached home and started preparing for my interview. I could sense some magical energy around, may be with this ray of hope

On Monday, I received the call as expected.  I quickly got ready and started for the interview. May Allah be always with you, blessed my parents. I was feeling both excited and anxious about the interview. Rizwan came home to pick me up.

The interview started bang on time. Wow! How professional! I said to myself.

I came out after about an hour completing three rounds of interview.

Congratulations!! Cheered Rizwan as I stepped out into the lobby

I smiled at him, as if asking, for what

Your happy face says it all. I know you are selected. He said with a beam

Yes, with a salary four times the previous one. Am joining tomorrow as a customer support officer.

Let’s go for a coffee, my treat, he said.

Sure, and next month onwards, I will treat you, every salary day, I chirped, walking out of the office holding him by his arm.

It has been over two years now. Happy days fly fast, really fast…

Cheers to our Silver Jubilee Coffee Treat, said Rizwan raising his coffee.

Oh yes, today I received my 25th salary. I said, making a quick calculation.

And that calls for a special treat.  Said Sheela, raising her cup.

Three coffee pastries please. I promptly placed the order.

While we were enjoying our coffee and pastries, I am so happy to see you like this, shared Sheela.

Thank you, Sheela for helping me with this job at Ethika. I always owe this to you. You have been really kind enough to recommend my name. I could not stop acknowledging her. I was feeling so happy, she joined us today, all the way from Delhi.

At your service Miss Happiness Manager, you are always welcome, she quipped with a bow.

You look really satisfied with your work. Am so happy for you. She swiftly added.

Of course, it such a wonderful company to work with. In a span of two years, I have grown from a customer service officer to Happiness Manager. It’s like, a promotion each year. Like everyone, I am the CEO of my function, working in the best interests of the customers. Work freedom allows me to have the right work -life balance. The learning space allows me to acquire the necessary skills, resulting in my faster career growth. Every team member is solution-seeker. No problem, small or big can stop anyone from achieving results here. There is always a way out. And yes, so many incentives. This is one company, unlike my previous employers, where I have been growing in every aspect of my profession. I feel so proud to be here.

And you, Sheela, are at the source of all this. Thank you again so much. I said, firmly holding her hands.

Ah, come on! You deserve all this, and God has blessed you for all that you went through your life, said Sheela, gently patting my cheek.

I am so happy for you that you got the right career option, with a great company, earning a handsome salary, with so many learning opportunities to grow up the ladder. See you on the top, very soon. God bless you. She added.

Come let us go, time for me to leave she added getting up from her seat. While, Rizwan proceeded to clear the bills, she gave me a quick hug.

Very glad to see you happy and cheerful. She whispered in my ears.

I quickly held her tight into a squeezing hug responding, blessed to have you as a friend.

Blessed to be with Ethika. Thank you Ethika, for coming into my life.