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Overcome Distractions to Regain Focus

We all know the feeling: we can’t focus; we feel increasingly overwhelmed by a mix of nonstop demands and technology that seems to be moving at the speed of light, and we’re frustrated just trying to get everything done well and on time.

All of us are driven to distraction at work, and that’s a big issue in so many ways. That’s the thinking of best-selling author Dr. Edward M. Hallowell. But this challenge can be solved with his smart and powerful strategies.

Dr. Hallowell, a psychologist and the world’s leading expert on ADD and ADHD, believes these challenges are because of six syndromes:

  1. Screen sucking – How to control your electronics so they don’t control you, and how you get over the addiction people feel when hyper-focusing on electronic screens and feel lost without them.
  2. Multitasking – How to say no when you have more to do than time to do it. Facing a daily onslaught of tasks, people increasingly and uncharacteristically become hurried, curt, preemptory and unfocused while trying to pretend that everything is under control.
  3. Idea hopping – How to finish what you start and not be like the old woman who lived in a shoe as and had so many children she didn’t know what to do.
  4. Worrying – How to turn toxic worry into problem solving. Many people waste chunks of each day attending to something other than what they want to be attending to, often in response to feelings of anxiety.
  5. Playing the hero – How to stop fixing everyone’s problems – except your own. Many professionals sabotage themselves by placing the needs of others above their own.
  6. Dropping the ball – How to stop underachieving at work. Some people suffer from an undiagnosed condition, true ADHD better than ADT, which causes them to underachieve through the inability to get organized.

Here are Hallowell’s strategies to help you manage and maintain your ability to focus:

  1. Energy – You, especially your brain, can’t focus without energy and plenty of it. As your energy gets low, you start to fade. Taking steps to monitor your brain’s energy supply is as basic and essential as keeping your car’s tank full of gas.
  2. Emotion – A one-off switch for learning and for peak performance. Often ignored or taken for granted, your emotional state drives the quality of your focus and thus the results you can achieve.
  3. Engagement – You must be interested in order to pay close attention. You also must be motivated. Interest and motivation equal engagement. Engagement happens when you do what you love to do, what you are good at and what advances your organization or your mission. That’s the engagement “sweet spot.”
  4. Structure – Such a simple word, but such is a magnificent tool when used creatively and wisely Armstrong’s “10% think time” is a perfect example of structure.
  5. Control – In today’s world, if you don’t take your time, it will be taken from you. Most people exert less control over how they use their time than they should. Take back control.

These great concepts are reported in Holloway’s new book, Driven to Distraction At Work. How to Focus And Be More Productive.

So how are you regaining focus in your work?

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5 Simple Yet Powerful Marketing Best Practices

Kathy Button Bell has been the CMO at Emerson for 16 years.

I had the pleasure of working with Kathy at Wilson Sporting Goods during a fulfilling time, personally and professionally.

Because of her business savvy, and smart, practical and powerful principles and actions. Kathy has been honored as one of the nation’s top B2B marketers and female business leaders.

Kathy’s best business practices are so simple yet powerful, that I knew you would appreciate them. They work equally well for marketing and communications:

  1. Divide and conquer — Take marketing change to one person at a time. Don’t walk into a big auditorium and explain it. Take it apart and address as many people as you can one-on-one.
  2. Find the squeaky wheel first – There will always be someone who’s vocal about what’s not working or why things should be done differently. Find this person first and get them on board first.
  3. Be the complexity reduction officer — If you can make things simpler, then everyone will love what you’re doing, including the CEO and CFO. Great marketing equals simplicity.
  4. Become the Chief Inspiration Officer — Never forget that’s why you’re here: to inspire everyone throughout the company to collaborate, innovate and drive growth.
  5. Go big or go home — For our 125th anniversary, we kept saying “yes.” There was no idea that was too big or too bold. For people to think differently about us, we had to act differently.

What best practices of yours reflect or build on Kathy’s?

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SCAMPER to Boost Creativity

Want to really get creative? Why not SCAMPER?

SCAMPER is a creativity boosting technique offered by Michael Michalko in his ThinkerToys.

Michalko feels that manipulation is the brother of creativity. When your imagination draws a blank, take an existing item and manipulate it into a new idea. Remember that everything new is just an addition to or modification to something that already existed. Several things happen when you search out alternative ideas:

1. One of the alternative ideas may solve your problem.
2. An alternative idea may rearrange the components of your problem, solving it indirectly.
3. The alternative might prove to be a better starting point.
4. One alternative might be a breakthrough idea that has nothing to do with the problem at hand.
5. You may generate a number of alternatives and then return to your original idea.

SCAMPER is a checklist of idea-spurring questions. Some questions were first suggested by Alex Osborne, a pioneer creativity teacher. They were later arranged by Bob Eberlee into this SCAMPER mnemonic:

1. S = Substitute something.
2. C = Combine it with something else.
3. A = Adapt something to it.
4. M = Modify it or magnify it.
5. P = Put it into some other use.
6. E = Eliminate something.
7. R = Reverse it or rearrange it.

To use SCAMPER, you: 1) isolate the challenge or subject you want to think about and 2) ask SCAMPER questions about each step of the challenge or subject and see what new ideas may emerge. For example, you could ask about your prospecting system:

1. What procedure can I substitute for my current one?
2. How can I combine prospecting with some other procedure?
3. What can I adapt or copy from someone else’s prospecting methods?
4. How can I modify or alter the way I prospect?
5. What can I magnify or add to the way I prospect?
6. How can I put my prospecting to other uses?
7. What can I eliminate from the way I prospect?
8. What is the reverse of prospecting?
9. What rearrangement of prospecting procedures might be better?

A paper clip maker used this method and substituted plastic for metal, added color, and produced plastic clips in colors so that clipped papers could be color-coded, creating another use for the clip. Nice SCAMPER!

So, good luck SCAMPERing for more creative ideas. What other creativity techniques can you share?

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