Stop Silly Distractions From Sabotaging Your Success!

Distracted-Productivity

Like you, my day is brimming with distractions – interruptions that divert my focus from my plan, my goals, and whatever I’m currently working on. In order to successfully run our multiple businesses, serve my clients well, and continue to learn and grow, focus is a must!

If I let distractions get me off course, the ramifications are costly.

What distracts you most? For me, it’s all methods of communication including e-mail, instant messaging, social media, phone calls, and texts that create the biggest distraction. That’s even more challenging for two reasons:

1) My work centers around communication

2) Communication is vitally important to me – it is also one of my Top 5 Values, which also makes it extra tempting! Combine that with the fact that most communication is in some way linked to relationships (also one of my Top 5 Values) – it’s hard to resist being distracted!

Communication related interruptions aren’t the only distractions I encounter. There are plenty of other distractions vying for my attention. The truth is that distractions will always be there, but I don’t have to be a slave to them. I get to choose what I will focus on and there are ways for me to be proactive and protect my focus. Here are some of my favorite ways to limit silly distractions:

1. My “Top 3”

One of the easiest ways to succumb to distractions is to meander through your day without a plan. Then you end up navigating your day by going from one distraction to another. In essence, you choose to be distracted.

I want to operate more intentionally. That’s why I take the time each morning to plan my day: to consciously choose what I will focus on that day. I’ve mentioned this before, but I will share again, that I find it helpful to do a brain dump – write everything down that I want/need to get done on scratch paper. Then I determine what my “Top 3” tasks are – the three most important tasks and write them at the top of my “to-do” list. Then I prioritize the remaining items on my list add them below my Top 3. Knowing your priorities is crucial!

Top 3-Track

Now, there are days when my plan goes awry and what’s most important shifts during the course of the day. That’s OK, because prioritizing is a moment-by-moment choice. I have the freedom to shift my Top 3 because it’s not in stone. Again, I get to choose what I will focus on.

2. Tackle the Most Challenging Task First!

I don’t know about you, but at times I have tasks on my list that I just really don’t want to do. It might be a task I don’t enjoy, I don’t know where to start, that feels too big, or that just feels hard.  Believe it or not, by completing that task first, I feel empowered to tackle the other items on my list. However, if I ignore that task, it bogs me down and makes completing even easy tasks more challenging.

3. Work in Blocks of Time

I don’t have to be available 100% of the time and neither do you! In fact, you need blocks of time to think, reflect, explore, and dream. That space is a must for leaders! It takes time to creatively approach what’s before you because, like me, you are probably a leader, professional, entrepreneur, or coach with plenty on your plate!

Sometimes scarcity is a good thing. That’s why I block out specific times on my calendar to focus on important tasks. If you don’t create space in your calendar for those key responsibilities, I promise vital activities will get squeezed out and you will find yourself reacting rather than leading.

The key to being temporarily unavailable is making sure to communicate your availability and to consistently return calls or messages at specific points in your day to avoid being someone who is unreliable. For example, I typically respond to emails first thing in the morning, after lunch, and before wrapping up my day.

I’ve also found it quite useful to set a timer, one that actually ticks, to help stay on track.

4. Set & Maintain Boundaries

Blaming others for keeping me from getting tasks is no good! It’s really my issue. If I’m not able to clearly communicate my boundaries in a loving way when I need to focus and get something done – that’s something I need to work on. My family knows that my office door being closed is my “do not disturb sign.” J

5. Admit My Limits

As my work has picked up and I have more to juggle, I’ve had to be very clear about my limits and what I’m capable of handling well in a day. That’s hard because I want to do it all, but in reality, doing it all isn’t a happy experience for me. And when I attempt to do too much I’m frazzled and distracted and that’s not positive or productive either.

6. Have A Routine

I naturally gravitate towards routine, but even if routines aren’t your thing, try thinking about it as a rhythm or flow to your day. It provides the structure needed to minimize distractions. As you establish a routine or a rhythm to your day, use your most productive times for your most challenging tasks.

Curious about my routines? My morning routine. My evening routine.

7. Exercise

There are so many reasons I enjoy including exercise in my morning routine. To me it’s fun, but it also increases my focus, and, according to Wendy Suzuki’s TED Talk, it has a myriad of other benefits that make it well worth the effort!

8. Organize Now

Searching for stuff keeps me from accomplishing what I’m supposed to be accomplishing! And it’s mighty frustrating to boot, so even if I do find whatever I’m looking for, I’m frazzled.

I make a concerted effort to organize as I go. That means putting items away where they belong or creating a place for them. Implementing systems procedures, etc. right then rather than putting it off. While organizing definitely takes time, and might feel like a distraction in the moment, I don’t waste time searching or experience the frustration down the road.

9. Stop Skipping Breaks

If you are a productivity queen like me (or king), and you get a thrill out of crossing tasks off your “to-do” list, then you may power out your chores without taking breaks. It sounds counter intuitive, but I promise if you do pause and periodically take breaks, you’ll return to your tasks more focused and creative.

On the other hand, skipping breaks leads to more mistakes, inhibits my creativity, and ultimately leads to resentment and burn out. Worst of all, it ultimately ends up costing me more time.

In the same vein, working 24/7 is also counterproductive. We operate at our best with a regular rhythm of working hard and resting well. I realize there are times when projects or deadlines demand that you work extra, but this can’t be the norm. I find that limiting my work hours forces me to prioritize, focus, and trust that God will bless my efforts.

A tired me is an easily distracted me.

10. Feed My Soul

Yes, when my soul is cranky, it’s hard to focus! I feel more drained, less motivated, and resentful of what needs to get done. That’s why I must be proactive and carve out time alone with God – it’s essential to feeding my soul. And I know for me I need space in my life to do the activities that make my heart happy – activities like creative projects, reading, gardening, learning, along with time with family and friends. These activities not only feed my soul, but they energize me and increase my focus.

Don’t let silly distractions keep you from successfully accomplishing what God’s given you to do. I’ve shared my favorite tips to help you manage you better – habits that support your ability to focus. Next, I’ll be exploring some of the internal distractions that are stealing your focus.

How are distractions impacting you? What would enable you to increase your focus?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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