Give yourself and your employees some distraction-free work time
by Danielle Lavallee Wasson
When I shared these numbers with a Dallas retailer, she told me I was crazy. So I did what I ask you to do all the time — I measured it. A University of California study showed that for every distraction, it takes 25 minutes to get back to the same level of concentration we had beforehand. It gets worse, the study says: Only 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed the same day, and it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back to the task started. The same holds true when you glance at a text. Every second eats up an average of 23 seconds to get your concentration back.
For many retailers the summer high is over and on we go to the beginning of the school year and fall season. It’s a shift for families and businesses. Cellphone activity among mom, dad and the children increases to coordinate this schedule shift. At the same time, you need to close as much new business as you can to finish the year strong. This is a problem, because your customers, your staff and you simply do not share the same priorities. To top it off, it has become second nature or bad habit to look at our phones when it dings or vibrates to see what is happening. I was using my cell for more than four hours a day, and apparently I am below the national average.
Yes, cellphones are a huge culprit in the world of distractions, but the worst offenders of distractions are co-workers. You know all the little, “Do you have a minute?” It’s never a minute! Of course, we need to be human and not have our staff be like robots. In the same breath, we also have to prioritize to provide the best customer service experience and generate profitable income.
One employee with only one distraction a day costs you a minimum of 104 hours a year, or 2.6 weeks of work time. Five employees with one distraction a day results in more than 520 hours a year — 13 weeks (or an entire quarter).
Still not convinced? Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you or your employees find yourselves stressed, like there are not enough hours in a day to get it all done?
- Is your team regularly working overtime?
- Are you bringing work home?
- What critical tasks are needed to grow your business? Are you getting to them so you can stay competitive?
- Do your salespeople have time for follow-up calls, letters or emails?
- Is all paperwork completed and on time?
- Does everyone know all they need to know, no longer requiring training or self development?
- Have you ever paid attention to how many times you move a pile of paper on your desk or start a task that seems never-ending?
I am not proposing you make your staff put away their phone for the day and not be allowed to talk with each other. But do try a few techniques to ensure you are offering the best customer service and that all critical tasks get done on time.
Warning: Implementing the items below can create heart palpitations, confusion and short-term stress. The good news is that these symptoms are quickly replaced with fun, productivity, calm — and the benefits of actual real live interactions with actual real live people.
Disconnect to reconnect:
Get each team member to use the pomodoro technique when they have a task requiring concentration. Twenty-five minutes of work with zero distractions, a short break, then start again until done. Set a timer for the 25 minutes. Zero distractions means no people, no music, no cell, all notifications turned off and ideally done in an office with the door closed. This also works great for group brainstorming.
Declare cellphone–free periods during peak retail traffic.
Suggest employees download a cellphone usage app. Try it yourself so you can share your shocking results.
Turn off ALL notifications on cells and computers so you control when you look at emails, texts or social media. Plan those times instead of them controlling you all day long.
This is not an easy task, but I have been able to get back over two hours a day by limiting my cellphone use to 90 minutes max. It has dramatically improved my concentration, lowered my stress and increased my productivity. As a bonus, I also realized that just like a soap opera, in just a few minutes I can catch up on multiple missed episodes. It’s OK if I did not comment, like, tweet or share the fact that my fifth cousin’s daughter stubbed her toe. Just go for it, and let me know the results.
After a 26-year career in the pool and spa industry, Danielle Lavallee Wasson pursued her passion to help retailers grow their business, founding My Retail Coach. Wasson’s approach is straightforward and provides real-life solutions that dealers can use to effect positive changes with their teams. Nathalie joined My Retail Coach in 2017. She brings more than 20 years of experience in online marketing of small- and medium-size businesses. She helps dealers improve their online presence by providing highly effective activities.
Their mission is simple: Help dealers get more customers, keep them longer and make more money. My Retail Coach services include online training videos and webinars supported by one-on-one coaching and consulting. You can find courses at mycoach.thinkific.com.