Focus and Distractions

th-1In today’s always on, super connected society we face a multitude of constant distractions that cause us to lose focus on the task at hand. Some distractions are obvious while some are much more subtle.

While technology can be the biggest culprit with cell phones, texts and tweets, emails and the like, there are also those little annoyances that can rob you of your focus. The louder than usual conversation you over hear, the barking dog, or even something as simple as a minor interruption to a routine task can turn a multitasking master into a master of disaster.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.

Having just completed a very long week of training at our corporate office, I arrive at the airport with little time to spare. I quickly head to security only to find a longer than usual line. No big deal because as a frequent flyer, I am TSA pre-screened and should be able to quickly get to my gate. To my surprise, the pre-screen station isn’t working so I’m directed to regular line.

As I am preparing to go through the screening station, I grab two of those security trays, one for my laptop and the other for my shoes and liquids. Standing in front of me is a gentleman with a pet carrier who is directed by the TSA agent to remove the animal he is transporting. When he removes, as I was told, a very rare cat from the carrier, all hell breaks loose. The cat lets out some sort of primeval scream, swipes the man across the face, and quickly dashes into the maze of passengers awaiting screening. To say this was a distraction would be a gross under statement.

While the guy in front of me chases down his cat and in an effort to restore a sense of normalcy to a rather chaotic situation, the TSA agent quickly waves me through. But not so fast, for whatever reason the body scanner detects an anomaly and I’m selected for one of those tastefully yet passionate full body groping (aka, pat downs). Yes, another distraction in what is usually an uneventful process.

With no time to bask in the after glow of my intimate encounter with the TSA agent, I quickly collect my belongings and race off to catch my flight. Well if you think this little tale of distraction is complete you are seriously mistaken. Fast-forward to Sunday morning when I reach into my technology travel bag (also know as a brief case) to discover that my laptop is missing. Son of a B@$&#.

Guess who left his laptop at security? That’s right, this guy. What a dumb ass! I have flown somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 flights over the last two years and haven’t left anything behind. No head phones, wallet, cell phone, sunglasses, nothing.

So what’s the point of this travelers tale? What can you learn from the trials, tribulations, and misfortune of the Zim-Master?

It is the importance of keeping your focus regardless of the situation. The simple fact is that when we lose our focus, even to the smallest (or wackiest) distraction, the impact while not always immediate, can have a significant impact on your productivity. Not to mention the embarrassment of having to call your new boss to go pick up your laptop from the airport and have him overnight it to you.

On the positive note, I now know the process for locating and retrieving a lost item from the TSA.

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