Being productive in spite of distractions!

Susan Brennan — №18 with Scott Belsky

Do you ever feel like you want to be productive, but there are just too many things getting in the way? You’re not alone! Distractions are everywhere, and we’re going to figure out how to be productive in spite of them!

For instance, I just got two emails, three Facebook notifications, a text message and a knock at the door in the last five minutes. I’m normally pretty good at turning off notifications (and putting up the “Please Do Not Disturb” sign on my door) when I sit down to write, but sometimes I get in the zone before that happens, and am reminded shortly thereafter that I forgot. So, I’m back! Phew! I can focus now and hammer this out in a short amount of time, and get back to monitoring and responding to my “distractions” when it’s their time. I find that distractions are only distractions if you let them be.

Turning away from distractions

Distractions do not have to take us away from what we’re working on… it’s a mindset. You have to choose one thing to focus on and then get it done. Then, as with the rest of life, you get to choose what to focus on next. Do you have the option of turning your phone off for 15—30 minutes while you focus on writing that report, cooking dinner, responding to emails or catching up on a good book? Ignoring distractions in the moment doesn’t mean that you’re ignoring them for good, so let that go. It’s okay to say “not right now”. It’s okay to simply say “no” and move on.

Finding opportunities to tackle distractions

Do you ever find yourself with “so much time and nothing to do?” Granted, it’s usually rare for most people, but it does happen. Perhaps you had a meeting scheduled and the person you’re meeting with had to reschedule last minute. Or, maybe traffic wasn’t as bad as you thought and you arrived to your appointment 15 minutes earlier than expected. All of the sudden, you’ve been given the gift of time! Some of you are reading this and thinking, “I wish that was my problem!” Well, put some of these tips into practice, and that can be your problem … not such a bad one to have! You just have to be on the lookout for opportunities to get things done. They happen more often than you realize.

Distractions to tackle

Here are some simple things you can always keep with you in case you find yourself with a little extra time to tackle those distractions from earlier in your day, or those things that you constantly find on your To Do list:

Overcoming distractions

The point is, there are always things to work on, and there will always be distractions. You have to prioritize, decide what really needs to get done, and focus on each item for 15—30 minutes (in the order you want to accomplish them), and then move onto the next one only when the original item has been completed. Take quick breaks if you feel a distraction coming on, and then get back to your original project.

It is amazing how much you can get done in a short amount of time when you truly focus! So, move into this week with a new focus on not letting those distractions detract from what you want to get done! You can do it!

I will leave you with this quote from Colin Powell: “Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.”

Photo: Flickr / Trevor Pritchard CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Susan brennan

Susan Brennan

A speaker, personal assistant, artist and productivity enthusiast. When she’s not working on her businesses, she can often be found reading a great book at a local coffee shop, or snuggling with her creatures (two cats and a dog).

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