I don’t know about you, but my year has started off very differently to how it ended. December was frenetic and frenzied. January definitely has more ease. While this is a good thing, it has thrown my rhythm and I haven’t been feeling as focused as I’d like to be.

Because one of our signature programmes is helping business professionals to have better concentration and focus, I know what I need to do. I’m going to do a series of emails (over the coming weeks) with guidelines to help us focus and concentrate. The first is to… Overcome Distractions.

Before giving you some Key Steps, I must just say that being easily distracted isn’t all bad. In fact, in the right circumstances, it can help you survive. Being hyper aware kept our ancestors from becoming a predator’s dinner. But they didn’t have Facebook, calls, emails, text messages, WhatsApp or the 5,000 ads we see every day all vying for our attention. We need to be really mindful of what gets our attention.

What Key Steps can we take to ‘be the difference that makes the difference’?

  1. Assess whether it is lack of focus or change in focus. At the end of last year, I was bumper to bumper with back-to-back facilitation and coaching. Coming into the New Year, I’ve been attending to all my annual health check-ups, our new website design, getting Mila into her own room, looking for schools for her next year, updating training material and so on. Because I am not totally absorbed by client facing work, I am not unfocused or distracted. But my inner gremlin has been trying to tell me otherwise and I’ve had to keep interrupting and replacing the dialogue. If I don’t, I feel lousy and then I do end up distracted and trying to do too many things at once, which brings me to…

  2. Stop multitasking. Multitasking destroys concentration and is a myth. You don’t actually do several things at once; your brain quickly toggles back and forth between tasks. You can do unconscious tasks such as walk and talk at the same time, but once it gets more complicated, you sacrifice the efficiency of one task for another. Because I’ve got more ‘space’ right now, I have found myself wanting to do too many things with it. I’ve had to really slow my mind down and prioritise that to do list. Here’s another motivating fact: Lack of mindfulness in the present has been found to promote brain aging by shortening protective end caps on your chromosomes called telomeres. This knowledge is enough to make me more mindful, I want my brain as young as possible. It does not help to look and feel young, if I can’t think young!

  3. Get rid of clutter. Brain MRIs show conclusively that clutter affects your ability to concentrate and process information. Having an organised environment can make you more focused and productive. You’ll remember information better. It can even improve your mood. I’m not suggesting a spick and span workspace… I’m a bit of a messy worker 😉. But I do know that when my mind and certain aspects of environment are ‘out of the ordinary’ disorganised, I am unfocused and unproductive.

  4. Create your perfect sound environment. Some people need complete silence while others concentrate better in the buzz of their favourite coffee shop. Classical music, especially Mozart and Baroque music, is often cited as the top brain-boosting music. Many music streaming services have classical and environmental music, along with white, pink or brown noise that you can listen to for free. If you concentrate best in total silence, consider getting a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

What Key Steps will you take to overcome distractions and stay focused?

You can also reach out to Collette (collette@keysteps.co.za) or me to find out how we can support you and your team to perform optimally, behave in emotionally intelligent ways and develop leadership skills suited for our dynamic and fast-paced future. Take a look here to see what we do.

We all need support, tools and systems that enable us to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’


NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’