Have you ever had the kind of day when you can’t seem to get anything done? When every time you attempt to focus on your work, something gets in the way?
Interruptions. Distractions. Call them what you want, but we all have them.
There are two types of distractions:
1. Distractions that are beyond our control
2. Distractions that we consciously (or unconsciously) choose
Distractions that are out of our control come in all sizes:
- lawnmowers, sirens, or other loud noises outside your window
- chatty office mates
- dogs barking
- your computer dying
- your child getting sick
- your internet connection being down
- medical emergencies
Anything that you don’t have control over falls into this category.
Then there are the distractions that we inadvertently choose:
- habitually checking email
- getting sucked into social media
- answering text messages and phone calls that aren’t important
- playing with the dog
- going outside because it’s too nice to be indoors
- eating, drinking, napping
- laundry, watering the lawn, and other household chores
Distractions interrupt our focus and flow.
It’s hard to work with distractions, but here’s how to be productive:
- Write down everything you need to do and get it out of your head. You can’t keep track of a million things by memory when you’re distracted and stressed.
- Prioritize. Look at that long list you just made and circle the three most important things. These are things that absolutely need to get done. They may or may not be time sensitive, but they’re definitely important. Also make note of WHY they’re important. This will help you keep going when it gets tough.
- Choose one thing from that list as your top priority. Then write down the first three things you can do to make progress on it. Make these tasks small so they’re easier to complete.
- Now, do the work. Shut off all distractions that you can. Turn off your phone and computer notifications. Get off social media. And if you don’t need your computer for this task, shut that off too. Put your blinders on and get to work.
- Get an accountability partner. Let her know what you’re working on and why, and ask her to hold you accountable. Do the same for her.
Life will never be free from distraction, but you can do this. You can do this even when it seems like there are obstacles at every turn. Take stock, set your priorities, and move forward best that you can.
Control what you can, and do your best to deal with what you can’t. Take care of business even if it means letting some of the less important things slide.
You’ve got this!