Penny Zenker: Breaking Your Addiction to Distraction

Posted in: PSA Partnership

If you’re like most people – at times, you’ve experienced feeling physically depleted, emotionally drained, and mentally distracted at work. We have all been there! Despite our best efforts, distractions are everywhere adding to our inability to concentrate at work. In our most recent partnership webinar, Penny Zenker, author, Focusologist, and former Tony Robbins business coach, heightened our awareness around our focus problems while addressing its costs and implications for our future success.  

Today more than ever, it is crucial for us to protect our time, energy, and attention. With over 25 years of experience in founding, running, and scaling organizations, Penny has used and implemented techniques to challenge the way we have been conditioned to behave by letting go of the emotional pull that surrounds our fear of missing out. During her virtual workshop, Penny demonstrated how to create rules, filters, and environmental support structures to remove distractions at work before they happen. Consider these key takeaways from Penny’s presentation to implement strategies to quickly take back your focus and improve your overall productivity. 

Key Takeaways 

The Reset  

From checking our phones on an average of 96 times a day to responding to notifications in less than 90 seconds, phones are known to be mass distractors. We have conditioned our brains to crave these distractions just like we crave sugar. This results in constant multitasking while also limiting our attention span. To diminish distractions, Penny discussed using a three-step reset practice. This includes: 

  • Taking a step back from your current task at hand 
  • Setting a new perspective on your current situation to understand different options in order to complete your current task. For example, if you are not bringing your best energy to work, then you will not end your workday with the best results. Consider how much time you are putting into your work compared to how you feel about the results you achieve. Once you shift your perspective away from time and towards energy, you will start seeing better results immediately. 
  • Realigning what you consider to be the most important tasks of your day so you can focus on those efforts first and increase your work performance. As Penny once said, “You can dictate your results, but only if you fully manage the factors that affect them.” This means that you have to take responsibility for your tasks to be able to get in the zone. To achieve this, Penny suggested using a 1:3:5 Daily Planning Method. This method includes: 
    • Taking one action a day to move towards one of your long-term strategic goals 
    • Taking three actions a day to move you closer to a milestone goal you want to achieve 
    • And, finally, taking five urgent actions that will help you to complete your most important task of the day 

By using these three steps, you will realign your focus and feel satisfied at the end of the day. You will be able to reset your attitude and outlook to protect your attention and improve your productivity.  

80/20 Rule 

The 80/20 rule is a familiar saying that indicates 20% of your actions will produce 80% of your results. By using the 80/20 rule, for focus purposes, you will feel less stressed and more in control of your emotions. Penny addressed that this technique allows you to shift your work mindset from time oriented to understanding the value, impact, and objectives you can create when you prioritize.  

When using this practice, you need to: 

  • Define what 20% of your work is the most important to you 
  • Remove the obstacles that are keeping you from being motivated at work such as silencing alerts on your electronic devices, working in a quiet environment, decluttering your workspace, etc.  
  • Own your actions and distractions by asking yourself: 
    • What are my biggest distractors? 
    • What takes up the most time during my day? 
    • What wastes and creates the most stress throughout my workday? 

Once you have answered these questions, you will begin to create a balance in your work life. By deeming what you value to be the most important, your work attitude will change from problem to solution oriented. 

Gatekeepers: Rule of 3 

Gatekeepers are the precautions we take in order to reach our goals. Throughout Penny’s presentation, she addressed the importance of being more intentional with your actions to achieve success. In other words, this means that you need to align your actions with your goals, or you will be left feeling distracted and pulled away from your tasks. Gatekeepers are forms of accountability, not only to set a goal, but to own it and do what it takes to achieve it. In the Gatekeepers: Rule of 3 strategy, Penny suggested establishing rules, filters, and environmental support systems to set up gatekeepers that will enforce time management and support your goals. An example of this structure and how to use this strategy is shown below:  

By following this technique, you will give yourself boundaries to realign, protect, and direct your focus.  

It’s our goal at PSA to help you be as successful as you can in both your home and work life. To learn more or watch our recorded webinar, visit 

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