Digital devices can be tremendous business tools, but we often don’t realise the extent to which they are distracting us. Here are some tips for limiting their negative influences:

1. Set new management ground rules. For example, leave your mobiles outside during meetings.

2. Introduce a ‘digital abstention hour’ during lunch breaks. This will encourage interdepartmental communication and give people time to switch off.

3. Have a five ‘mindful minutes’ session before the start of each big meeting. This could involve deeper breathing and relaxation techniques before discussions get underway, to help with focus and concentration.

4. Be a role model. Don’t have your digital devices in the room – even if you happen to be the most senior person there.

5. Get into the habit of having a management check-in at the start of every meeting. This lets people know their full participation is required and they are valued.

6. Make sure that everyone can fully participate. Asking them to put their devices out of sight will keep them in the ‘here and now’.

7. Encourage people to move around the room. This will help them to keep their attention and energy up. Boredom or inactivity may prompt them to check their phone for messages.

8. Consider using informal space rather than formal boardroom tables for meetings. Boardroom tables can make it difficult to have direct eye contact with everyone present and suppress open and honest communication.

9. Forget about the PowerPoint slides. Instead, provide flip charts and coloured bold markers so that people feel they can jump up and present ideas.

10. Praise people who are willing to sacrifice their devices. Those who are eager to engage and participate in the meeting more fully should be recognised.

Andro Donovan coaches high-performing professionals


This article was taken from the Autumn 2017 edition of Edge magazine.

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