When Doing Is Derailed By Distractions

What are you doing?

Not right now. I know what you’re doing right now.

The reason I ask is because I was reminded again today about all of the things I do that keep me from doing what needs to be done.

I organize.
I surf the web.
I tweet and retweet.
I check Facebook.
I look at my email.
I re-organize.
I write lists.
I read blogs 🙂
I play Words With Friends.
I check in again at Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, and Email.

And at the end of the day – that moment when I lay my head on my pillow (placing my cell phone on the nightstand where I can do most of those things above one more time) – the question comes back around: What are you doing?

I’m not saying the activities listed above are bad or evil. But they can become distractions that keep us from doing what we truly need to be doing.

They represent the time-consuming activities that keep us from doing our most meaningful and creative work.

They are the distractions that occur when I…

Don’t want to do something.
Am afraid to do something.
Don’t know where to start with something.
Am overwhelmed by something.

All of the activities I listed above can be good and useful (even meaningful) activities. The only reason they’re distractions is because I allow them to fill the time that needs to be spent doing the necessary task.

If you find there’s something in this post that resonates with your own workflow, I’d recommend the following:

1. Acknowledge the distractions for what they are.

I shared some of my distractions above. Yes, those really are temptations for me when I’m needing to get something done. Do you know what yours are?

2. Remove the ability to engage in those distractions when you need to get something done.

Sometimes I can’t work in my office because it houses too many of my distractions. I simply grab a legal pad and pen and head into our stark and bare conference room. It’s a distraction free environment.

3. Create deadlines and stick with them.

Deadlines help move a task from the realm of “need” to get it done to “have” to get it done. It helps me to add the pressure of a deadline. If I feel like the timeline of a task is open-ended, I’m more prone to allow the distractions to rob me of my time.

4. Ask someone to keep you accountable.

The opposite of resistance is assistance. Don’t fight the distractions alone. Explain what’s going on to a trusted friend and get them involved in helping you get things done.

5. Fast from the distracting activity for a period of time.

I know, you thought fasting was only a spiritual exercise. Well, it can also be used to proactively fight against the distraction. Even if you only engage in the distracting activity when it’s not a distraction, it can fuel it’s power over you when you need to focus on something else. If it’s possible, why not try giving it up for a month?

How do you conquer the distractions that derail you from doing what needs to get done?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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