It’s no surprise that people struggle to focus. We’re bombarded with distractions, burdened by unrealistic expectations, and drowning under too many incoming requests.

In a world of constant distractions, many employees can’t find the focus to get quality work done. A recent survey showed that almost two-thirds admit they don’t put in an hour or two each day without being derailed. As leaders, how do you help your team stay productive and focused? Results Driven Leadership has identified seven best practices for helping people be more intentional with their time – so give them a try!

Our research revealed that many of us are struggling to stay focused. When we do get a moment, nearly one-third can hardly power through more than 10 minutes before it’s time for the next distraction! But these brief moments pull their punches: left unchecked, our lack of focus leads to feelings like overwhelm and exhaustion as well as decreased effectiveness in whatever goal we’re trying to achieve.


Stan had big plans for the day; he was determined to finish off his project proposal and send it in to Audrey. But before Stan could even step foot into the office, James threw a curveball at him – asking for input on Q3 projections. Knowing this would only take a few minutes of his time, Stan agreed but what seemed like seconds turned out be 45 long minutes! To make matters worse when Stan finally got settled into work, that morning’s email suddenly became oh-so pressing. Despite being overwhelmed with demands from all angles throughout the day, each completed task gave Stanford an immense boost of satisfaction – providing some grateful relief amidst stressful times

Stan started the day with enthusiasm and eagerness, as he was determined to finish his project proposal before lunchtime. Unfortunately, Suzy showed up for a chat right when Stan finalized his work – thus pushing back any further plans! Then came the unexpected; after their lunch break, the CEO called for another working session that occupied most of Stan’s afternoon (3 pm!). Dazed from continuous disruptions in routine during the whole day, chasing little tasks here & there such as processing emails, including one large request from the morning – it wasn’t until the end of all this hullaballoo that reality hit him hard – alas! The important task had been forgotten amidst everything else: His Project Proposal is still left untouched even at 5 p.m., not to mention missing out on his son’s soccer game which only made matters worse…

Everyday distractions are taking their toll on our people. With so much going on, they’re exhausted and feel disengaged from the task at hand. Has there been any real progress? Ultimately, it’s hard to say if anyone is being truly productive or just busy all day long without getting anything done.

Burnout, yawn and tired call center people sleeping on desk with computer.

As a leader, you have the power to create an environment where your team can stay productive and focused in spite of today’s hyper-stimulated world.

To help you do this, let us offer seven best practices from our  course “Productive Time Management”  – giving your team permission to limit distractions; saying no to low-priority work; blocking out noise so they can focus on what’s most important; setting clear goals with achievable deadlines for projects & tasks; rewarding good performance promptly; responding quickly when problems arise, and creating both shared success stories as well as individual recognition opportunities.

1. Inventory tasks and projects.

Having a clear understanding of all the tasks and projects on your plate is essential for successful prioritization. As an effective leader, it’s important to encourage team members to maintain up-to-date lists of their commitments in order give them ample opportunity each week for reflection on what needs attention first!

Download the Guide to Creating Successful Action Plans

2. Clarify and curate communication channels.

In the average workplace, too many communication channels can lead to overwhelming distractions. To reduce this burden, it’s important to make sure everyone knows what each channel is used for and how quickly they should expect a response from others. Working together, we can create an environment that supports effective working habits!

3. Normalize saying no.

Leaders must create an environment where everyone feels safe expressing their worries about work overload and burnout. Encourages your employees to speak up even if it means saying no – something that many leaders may shy away from hearing due to the fear of bad news disrupting productivity or morale.

Rather than ignoring such concerns, teach your team how best to respond by thanking people for being honest and open with information like this so it can be addressed accordingly instead of simply swept under the rug in hopes that things will eventually improve on their own accord!

4. Make meetings meaningful.

Ensure the meetings you run are meaningful and worthwhile – it will show your respect for other people’s time! Give yourself or employees permission to turn down invitations if they do not have a defined purpose that includes their area of responsibility. An effective manager we know has set an example by doing this himself, which in turn gives his team greater control over their days so they can dedicate themselves to more important tasks. “If someone invites you to a meeting without a clear agenda and reasons why you’re vital to the success of the meeting, you have my permission to decline it.” This manager put the onus back on the meeting creator (who was often himself) to show greater respect for others’ time. It also let employees control their days so they could focus on high-priority work.

5. Enable purposeful productivity.

During your weekly 1:1 or team meetings, don’t just ask if your employees are ‘getting things done.’ Dig into the details to discover how you can help them maximize productivity. Ask questions about their workload and the tasks that may be distracting or draining time away from what they should actually be doing. See if there’s anything standing in their way – like a long list of priorities or extra requests pulling attention away from important work — then provide support to tackle those roadblocks head-on! With some strategic calendar blocking or adjustment of hours, everyone will have more space for purposeful progress toward meaningful goals.

6. Formalize focus.

Establishing a team norm of protected work time can be an efficient way to promote focus. Schedule two days each week for uninterrupted periods or Get Sh*t Done Time (GSD), allowing everyone on the team to get their tasks done without disruption from meetings or other obstacles. Make sure you honor these blocks and refrain from scheduling over them – otherwise, morale may start dipping!

7. Create a to-don’t list.

Respect is essential, and boundaries should always be honored! Cultivate an environment where focused work mode isn’t just encouraged but respected, setting yourself as an example for your team. Lead by showing that protected time is a real thing—one which will keep productivity levels high and help develop trust throughout the team.

Lead by example! Show colleagues that their “protected time” is nothing less than a reality – demonstrate respect for your team members’ boundaries and be aware of when they are in work mode. This not only encourages productivity but also serves as an encouragement to the whole group – inspiring them to make use of their allotted focused working hours.

For summarizing these best practices, I would like to offer a very valuable productive time management mindset of actions you need to eliminate or a “To Don’t List”

The To Don’t List

  • Don’t multitask: Attempting to do multiple things at once can decrease productivity and increase the chance of errors.
  • Don’t procrastinate: Avoid putting off tasks until the last minute, as this can lead to increased stress and lower-quality work.
  • Don’t check email or social media too frequently: Constantly checking email or social media can lead to distractions and interruptions.
  • Don’t neglect self-care: Taking care of yourself, including getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy meals, is essential for effective time management.
  • Don’t overcommit: Be realistic about your available time, and don’t agree to take on more than you can handle.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist: Perfectionism can lead to wasted time, as you may spend too much time trying to make something perfect.
  • Don’t take on too many projects at once: Focus on one project at a time, and finish it before moving on to the next one.
  • Don’t ignore deadlines: Keep track of deadlines and make sure you complete tasks on time.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no: If you are unable to take on additional responsibilities, it’s okay to decline them.
  • Don’t forget to plan: Plan your time in advance so you know what tasks you need to accomplish and when. This will help you stay on track and prioritize your time effectively.


Leading a team requires understanding principles that allow your employees to stay engaged and productive. If you want success, create an environment where they can focus on the tasks at hand without being pulled away by distractions. Support their ability to concentrate–and reap the benefits!

This can be a real challenge in today’s world, where distractions are everywhere, and our attention spans are shorter than ever.

For your personal development, look over this list of the most common Time Management Obstacles from our Productive Time Management Course. Pick one or two that are the big ones for you. Then create a committed plan to begin changing your habits to reduce if not eliminate, the obstacles.

  • You (Inability to hold yourself accountable to Time Management)
  • Too Busy with Day-To-Day Matters
  • Not Tackling Large, Overwhelming Tasks Through Time-Blocking Methods
  • Not Saying No
  • Not Establishing Uninterrupted Personal GSD Time
  • Not Delegating Enough
  • Focusing On Your Idea of the Week
  • Scheduling Important Meetings at the Wrong Time of Day
  • Wasting Time Trying to Prove You Are Right
  • Not Addressing Others’ Resistance to Your Decisions
  • Not Knowing What You Don’t Know
  • Distractions That Waste Your Time