Everyone gets distracted at one point or another, but if you find yourself constantly preoccupied, you may be missing out on life's important moments, Oprah Radio host Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says. "When we live life on the surface level and never go deep, we are shortchanging ourselves," he says. "The constant 'electronic buzz' prevents us from ever digging deep into a task [and] engaging ourselves and our minds."
Rabbi Shmuley shares advice on how to feel less distracted by all of life's interruptions.
Realize that the distractions you experience are not all your fault. People have only recently been dealing with an array of electronic interruptions in the workplace, including multiple phones, PDAs, e-mails coming in left and right and constant interruptions from co-workers, Rabbi Shmuley says.
Recognize when you are part of the problem, Rabbi Shmuley says. Do you interrupt co-workers when they're trying to wrap up a big project? Are you guilty of letting your BlackBerry buzz across the table when someone is making a great point in a meeting? Have you ever checked your text messages while on a dinner date? If so, work on these things, Rabbi Shmuley says. "Think about how you feel when someone checks e-mail while you're talking," he says. "If it makes you feel insignificant, you're making others feel the same way."
Don't be afraid to go offline. If you're in a meeting or spending time with others, don't be afraid to silence your phone or turn it off completely, Rabbi Shmuley says. "Lessen the need to feel connected 24/7, and start connecting more with those around you," he says.
For example, if you're meeting with a client, let your co-workers know you'll be "off the radar" at that time so you can focus on your client and that you'll get back to them later in the day. "It will give you some breathing room, make you more focused during a meeting," Rabbi Shmuley says. "You also are being courteous to others."
Redefine for yourself what is urgent. "There's the truly urgent, and then there's everything else," Rabbi Shmuley says. "Urgent things, of course, need to be responded to immediately, but not everything is urgent."
For example, if you're having dinner with your children, that should be your main priority. Turn your phone off and let the house phone ring, Rabbi Shmuley says. If your co-worker is making a presentation, pay attention to what she's saying. "She'll be happier and more confident knowing that everyone cares about what she says, and you may even learn a thing or two," Rabbi Shmuley says.
Take your mind off what you're missing, Rabbi Shmuley says. "We all act as though the next e-mail that might come in is the one that will change our life—we all know how rarely that happens," he says. Try to limit how many times a day you reach for your PDA when you're focusing on another task. "Pay full attention when a co-worker is talking to you, and don't reach for the [computer] mouse to check your e-mails," Rabbi Shmuley says.
Practice makes perfect—so make it a priority to practice. Rabbi Shmuley suggests using an egg timer or stopwatch to see how long you can stay on one task. Give yourself 30 distraction-free minutes to finish that great presentation, and make sure to let the phone ring and let e-mails go for a little while. "You'll be amazed at how much more creative and calm you will feel when you focus on just one thing at a time," he says. How to deal with interruptions in the workplace