Being productive in spite of distractions!
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:
Phone Calls: Having a limited amount of unexpected free time is the perfect opportunity to call that person you’ve been meaning to call but don’t quite feel like spending all afternoon speaking with. You can start off by saying, “I’ve been meaning to call you back, and wanted to wait until I had a few minutes to spare so we could chat. I arrived a few minutes early to a meeting and thought this would be the perfect time before I head inside in 10 minutes. Why don’t you fill me in on what you called me for and we’ll tackle it right now!” This gives you the perfect opportunity to chat, while having an immediate out by letting them know you only have a few minutes.
Crafts: Do you crochet? Arriving early, or getting “stuck” between two appointments with a limited amount of time allows you to get those types of projects done.
Writing: Have you been meaning to catch up on your handwritten communication? It’s becoming a lost art, but I think it’s critical in maintaining and building relationships! Take a few blank/pre-stamped notes, and write one or two when you find yourself with free time.
Planning: Do an intensive self-initiated business session with yourself. Put together your business plan for the next month. Or, if you prefer, break it down even further to your next week, or even your detailed plan for tomorrow. If business isn’t your thing, how about planning what you want your next vacation to look like, or how you’re going to pull your child’s birthday party together, or what you need to buy next time you’re at the grocery store.
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