Did you know that the average person only works about 2-3 hours per day?

I know. You get up early, take your place behind your desk, and spend your day dealing with whatever comes up. By the time five o’clock comes, you’re exhausted. But how much of your workday is actually devoted to work—and how much is spent dealing with distraction?

This is a common theme among my job search clients. “I want to meet my goals for networking/phone calls/prospecting/working on my resume,” they tell me, “but all these other things keep coming up!” It’s easy to see how this can happen. We don’t live in bubbles (well, most of us don’t, anyway) and so there is always the chance that distractions will come into our space and break our focus.

Here are some common distractions:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Text messages
  • Phone calls unrelated to the project at hand
  • Small talk with coworkers
  • E-mail and e-mail notifications
  • Internet browsing

Of course, all of these things should have a place in your schedule, especially if you’re working your networking pipeline. But you don’t necessarily need to attend to them the second they pop up. Would it really be a bad thing to turn off your text message and e-mail notifications for two or three hours a day? When you receive a distracting phone call, could you simply let it go to voice-mail—or say, “Can I call you back later, when I can give you my full attention?” If you’re immersed in a “dollars now” activity, listening to your friend’s Best Vegas Weekend Ever stories won’t necessarily serve you (or her, since you’re not giving her your full attention).

Some distractions are inevitable. But if you’re feeling scattered, there are steps you can take to control the chaos.

  • Hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your office door for one hour in the morning, and one hour in the afternoon. (I designed a cute little sign that reads F.O.C.U.S.—Fulfilling Obligations! Caution: Under Strict deadlines!)
  • Turn off the text message, e-mail notifications, and Facebook alerts on your mobile phone and/or iPad. You might choose to create an e-mail autoresponder that says something like, “In order to be more efficient, I will now be answering e-mail only at 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM.” If someone urgently needs a response from you, they can contact you by telephone.
  • If you work from home, don’t let pets come in to snuggle. If you have older children, ask that they respect your work space when they get home from school (or design your work hours around their schedules, so you can give them your full attention).
  • Try not to engage your coworkers in small talk unless you really want to be distracted. You can always chitchat on your breaks, over lunch, or outside of the office.
  • Don’t update your Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social networking sites during the hours you’ve designated for work. If you’re a business owner, work with these tools during the hours you’ve designated for marketing/business strategy.

While some of us are better at multitasking than others, no one is truly great at it. You can’t divide your attention into that many pieces and still be fully invested in any of them. Divide your time, not your mind! When you implement strategies for efficiency, you not only increase your productivity, you reduce your stress, and might actually reduce the number of hours spent behind your desk!

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE, BLOG OR WEBSITE? Please do, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Dawn Quesnel, CPCC, PCC, known as Coach DQ, is a professional coach, radio show host and workshop leader. Through the use of her B.R.I.D.G.E. programs she helps marketing, advertising, and creative entrepreneurs navigate career or business transition while maintaining a healthy career-life balance. Her core belief that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, consistently leads clients to uncover hidden resources and strengths. B.R.I.D.G.E. the gap and accelerate your career so you can love your life now! Visit www.CareerLifeBalance.net or http://www.coachdq.com today or for more information email me.

As a certified professional coach, radio show host and workshop leader, Dawn helps sales, marketing, advertising and creative entrepreneurs to accelerate their career so they’ll love their life!


  1. Hi Dawn!! You nailed it right on the head!! Thank you for this… I’m redirecting my focus as I type. You are the best!!

  2. Thank you for publishing this info. It is really helpful for me.

  3. I Flex says:

    Wow !! really nice blog. It will be very useful for me. So, thanks for sharing this post.

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