I know a thing or eight about distraction, in fact as I write this I have deviated from what I was doing. Which goes to show how easily it is to get off task. I made myself close it down to pick it up as planned AFTER I finished what I had on my list prior to this. For someone that has a million things going on in my head I can tell you this isn't easy to do. Taming the distraction monster is vital to getting the right things done at the right time, the right way.
We have a mountain of possible distractions everyday from Facebook, email, pets, children, spouses obligations and ideas. The list goes on, but you get the point. Distractions come in the form of what feels like a needed break from what we are doing but they can actually be anxiety inducing. Have you ever had something important to get done and somehow you found yourself on Facebook or stumbled in to your inbox only to look up later and realize how much time you just wasted. The important items on your list still sat there giving you an evil sneer; you promised not to let this happen again but how?
In order to change how we deal with distractions we need to change our behavior. We need to cut out the noise and temptation the best we can. Distractions are like that giant delicious piece of chocolate cake begging you to eat it while you are trying to eat healthy. The cake may be fantastic but it will leave you feeling guilty later.
Here are some simple tips you can work on implementing into your life to help you tame your distractions and add peace to your life.
1. Make a list the night before
Making your list the night before allows you to add any vital items that may have been missed in the current day. It also sets you up for success by getting the dreaded thinking about what needs to be done out of the way. Think of it like getting directions BEFORE you get in the car, compared to getting in the car and trying to get directions. Makes sense doesn't it.
2. Do not head straight to your email inbox
This is a common challenge for many because it is simple to do but can suck up a heap of time before you know it. Unless you have vital tasks that relate to email that must be done before anything else (processing orders, waiting on a client appointment or some other priority communication) avoid your email box like the plague in the morning. Most things really can wait. This simple practice can add peace and productivity to your day instantly.
3. Shutdown social media and set aside your mobile phone
Do not under any circumstance keep windows open on your computer to your Facebook or other social media sites unless it is a vital part of your job or project. The temptation to look for a moment can easily turn into hours per week of wasted time and lost productivity. This has gotten so bad it has become an epidemic. You may think peeking at cat pictures on your phone or computer will help you relax but it won't if you do it all day. What it will do is steer you right into the land of distraction making it difficult to get back to what you were doing. Social media can be fun if you do it during your downtime or on a break, not in the middle of what matters.
4. Stop multitasking
You may think you are a master juggler. I know I did, I would have three things going at once thinking I was making headway on all of them and had some special gift for this sort of magic. WRONG. This is an illusion. Stay on task, finish one item and then move on. The point at the end of your day is to have items completed or created with quality. You can move through things quicker when you are not jumping from thing to thing. You allow your mind to focus on one thing and move on, it allows for clarity which enhances creativity.
5. Stop being interrupted
Train your colleagues (or family if you work from home) to not interrupt you. Make yourself available at a set time to discuss anything they may need from you. They may not like this at first but if you demand this new habit be honored, with practice, they will learn to honor it too.
When you commit to taming your distractions you will get more done, you will be more engaged and will feel a deeper sense of order and calm at the end of the day. You deserve to feel great about what you put out in the world. Take back your power and tame your distractions today. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.