In our always on, multitasking, perpetually connected world, disruptions abound, which interrupt our thoughts, divert our attention, and interfere with sound decision-making. It’s a wonder we can accomplish anything noteworthy at all in this din of distraction, especially anything that requires focus and concentration. Experts assert that the capacity to persist in sustained attention to focus on a task is essential to achieve our goals and reach our desired outcomes. Yet this eludes us most of the time, and for many it’s all of the time. On average the human attention span has fallen to a dismal eight seconds. Compare that to goldfish, with a supposed attention span standing at nine seconds, which is 12 percent longer. While a telephone answering service can’t stop all our interruptions, it can remove at least one: the ringing telephone, which may be the most infuriating intrusion of all. One ring, two rings, and then three rings, each one beckoning us to answer. (A standard ring cycle lasts six seconds: two seconds of sound, followed by four seconds of silence, a mere 50 percent of our already short attention span.) Who can ignore the unknown potential of a ringing phone? Who can tune out its persistent summons? Even though the phone call may only take a minute or two, the time required to reorient ourselves back to the task before us usually takes much longer, five to thirty minutes, we are told, and maybe even longer if the interruption occurred at a critical juncture in our thought process. Indeed some vital insights may be lost forever and never recovered, all because a phone rang at an inopportune time. The next time you need to focus on a critical task, meet a looming deadline, or give 100 percent of your attention to a demanding analysis, ask your answering service to help you. Let them answering your ringing phone for you. This will minimize your interruptions and maximize your effectiveness. While you give all your attention to your critical task, your answering service will address your callers, providing information, answering questions, and taking messages when needed. Once your time of sequester is over and your project is finished, then you can return those phone calls as your next priority. Some wise executives try to block out one day or afternoon each week. Some schedule one hour a day, but even if you can only squeeze out an hour a week, that is the first goal to pursue and your answering service can get you started. Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry—and who helps businesses and organizations find the perfect answering service. Contact Janet at email@example.com or call 800-901-7706. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.