We’re constantly making choices on how we spend our time.

Do I check email, respond to that text, follow-up on that outstanding task, or do the next thing on my to-do list?

To become a positive influencer, we know we need to look beyond the short term and create space to be creative and do meaningful work.

The question is, how do we focus on what’s essential amidst all of the noise?

I’ve discovered that there are two main groups of activities that have turned us into corporate zombies.

Let’s start with urgency addiction.

Urgency Addiction

The first group of activities that you need to be mindful are those that are disguised as urgent.

This includes the latest crisis, pressing problems, and upcoming deadlines.

While handling these activities may be a priority, the challenge is to discover the truly important among the many interruptions, emails, and meetings that are taking up our time.

Here are three simple signs that you might have an urgency addiction …

  1. Do you have vacation days left over from last year, or you can’t remember that last time you took time off.
  2. You expect the people closest to you will naturally understand that you have to deal with urgent issues as they come up.
  3. Do you thrive on the emotional high of completing all the items on your to-do list, emptying your inbox, or resolving the latest urgent issue.

While this list is not inclusive, you need to be aware that everything can’t be urgent.

Your job as a mindful leader is NOT to handle every urgent item that comes up; it’s to put processes in place to prevent the urgent/reactive items from happening in the first place.

Digital Distraction

With the rise of the smartphone and the need to be always on, it’s becoming harder than ever to focus on what’s truly important.

The next group of activities that you need to be mindful are those that are taking your time away from your non-urgent yet important goals.

The includes most social media, busy work, emails, and other time wasters.

Here are three signs that you may need to deal with digital distractions …

  1. You couldn’t live without your phone for 24 hours.
  2. Do you send work-related emails and messages late at night, weekends, or while on vacation.
  3. You keep your phone within easy reach during face-to-face conversations, or you check your phone while having conversations with others.

While technology is useful, it can become a detriment when it distracts you from focusing on what is truly important.

Your job as a mindful leader is to recognize when the pull of being “always on” is too high, to establish healthy limits, and create space for doing deep work.

The Challenge

Both urgency addiction and digital distractions are something we all deal with day-to-day.

The challenge is to notice if you are thriving on the powerful high of dealing with “the urgent” or being sucked into the need to be “always on” as a way to avoid doing work that matters.

Is urgency addiction or digital distraction your biggest challenge? I’m curious as to which is the greatest struggle. Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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