Going the distance

Distractions: The best defense is a good offense

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. April 24, 2015

Need more help?

If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    www.nami.org
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

What do experts say is one of the most crucial skills for surviving in the digital world? The ability to focus. How do you achieve that? It takes a fanatical, almost draconian, effort to create a "sacred cocoon" around oneself.

Let me share my observations of a respected colleague. This gentleman is a physician, researcher, administrator and leader at a major medical center. He has an M.D. and an M.B.A. Here are some of the tools he uses to create the mental space to focus on the work at hand:

  • A clutter-free office. For many of us, it's difficult to see our desktop because it's littered with papers and files and trinkets. All of these siphon off energy. My colleague has more clear space than clutter on his desk. Same goes for the desktop of his laptop.
  • A simple system for notes. Regardless of the venue, he always has an index card and a pen in his pocket. When someone mentions a book, quote, statistic or website, he quickly jots it down.
  • Daily exercise. Despite an arduous travel schedule, he fits in a workout every day. This consists of stretching, variants of yoga and Pilates, and some form of aerobic activity. He shows similar dedication to following a plant-based diet.
  • A carefully managed calendar. My colleague makes sure he has plenty of "white space" between commitments. He doesn't allow himself to be overbooked with back-to-back meetings where, in general, very little is accomplished.

My colleague is an important role model of how to do it right. We all need to take charge of our days and our calendars or someone else will do it for us.

With

Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

April 24, 2015