It has been said that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. We know the things that we ought to do but we don’t do them. We know the things that we should not do but we do them anyway. What is going on? My list of things to do and habits that I want to form grows every day and I am eager to get things done. There is nothing I love more than checking things off of my “to do” list. But for some reason I often find myself distracted and when the day is done little is accomplished. I must change that if I hope to ultimately be successful. Here are four things that you can do to catapult yourself out of the world of distraction and get some things done.
How do I stop getting distracted so easily so I can get things done
Discover what distracts you
I once saw a commercial about how to quit smoking. Several years before I had already given up the habit but the commercial was catchy and the lessons have come in handy in many other objectives so it has stayed with me. One of those lessons was to journal as soon as you realize that you are smoking or in our case being distracted. Too often the entire day has passed and I honestly don’t remember what caused me to be so far behind. But if I journal throughout the day and honestly write down what I was doing in twenty minute intervals I will likely discover what it is that is slowing me down. Maybe I chatted with my buddy for over forty minutes.
It only seemed like five because we were having fun and the conversation was interesting. But nope, I lost forty minutes there. Then I did a quick check on Facebook and was there for twenty minutes. Now you can justify any and all distractions but the purpose of journaling is to identify where your time is going. Are you distracted by hunger pains when it gets close to lunch? Are there sounds or other items that might be distracting you?
Is your boss distracting you by asking too many questions during the development of the project phase? Again do not take time to analyze the situation. You just need to discover what the distractions are so that you can again become the productive employee or person that you want to be. Keep this going not only in your work day but throughout the evening, right until you go to bed. Write down what time you are going to bed as well as when you wake up. Once you have the a full week’s worth of journal entries recording what you were doing it in twenty minute intervals you can analyze the data and come up with a plan.
Make a plan
Now that you have some solid data to work with, sit down and think through what you are learning about yourself. First let me say way to go on establishing this discipline of journaling. That was impressive. But now all of that work will be worthless if you don’t make a plan it was all for nothing. What was distracting you last week? Arrange to meet with your friends after work or make appointments for them. Avoid Facebook unless it is very specifically job related. Have healthy snacks so that hunger does not distract you. Ask your boss for a meeting to set up a schedule of when would be the most optimal time for him to receive updates on projects. At home consider things that you can do to make yourself more successful. One example that I had to implement is to put my phone in my home office and then I will check it every hour or two.
When I kept the phone close I was distracted from hanging out with my family. Are there things that I can set up that will make me more productive tomorrow? Do I have the right clothes, clean and ready to use tomorrow? I like to set up the coffee pot at night when I am still fully awake rather than fumble around trying to set it up in the morning. Did you stay up late several times watching television or movies? Did this seem to impact your ability to focus the next day? Regardless of what you discover, set up a plan to limit the power of your distractions.
Put the plan in action and Clear the Clutter
Now that you have a plan. Put it into action. The plan does no good sitting next to your planner or in your planner if you will not take action. Secondarily you can also look around and see what you can do about the larger environment. I once read a report that indicated that we spend the equivalent of 2 hours a day looking for things. This can be files on your computer or your socks. Regardless, putting away the clutter can make a huge difference in your ability to get things done.
Experiment and try new things to overcome the distractions. Don’t give up if something does not seem to work. Keep trying new approaches. Maybe your boss feels like she should be able to interrupt you at any point in the process. You may need to find a different way to sell the idea of a plan to her. Your friend may love to come and regale you with stories of the adventure of parenting and ignore your pleas for moments of no distractions. Again sell it to him a different way. After you run this way for a couple of weeks you may want to do the journaling exercise again and look for other distractions that might be holding you back.
A critical step in this whole process is taking the time to know yourself. I know people who function great and get things done while they watch a movie or listen to the radio. I am not that person. I like to have several projects going at once and as I run out of creative steam with one idea I can switch to another. Someone else would flounder with such a plan. The point is that you must know the best version of yourself functions. Know yourself and apply that knowledge as you create your plan to live distraction free.
Living distraction free or more honestly in our modern, loud world, living with less distraction will enable you to accomplish so much more. No longer will you wonder what happened to your day. You will be living healthier and more productive in all areas of your life. Soon you will be the hero of your industry.