How do distractions get in the way of what’s really important?
When we don’t pay attention, they are hard to avoid. Distractions are EVERYWHERE. Phone. Email. Notifications. Social Media. Text messages. News updates. Animals. Kids. Significant others. Friends.
Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. Some are annoying and some are just damn cute. Even the notifications on your phone have fun little quaint chimes. They are sneaky that way… cute dings and welcoming chimes. They ENCOURAGE you to pick up your phone to see what it is. Can you imagine if those notifications were paired with the blaring sound of sirens or a train horn? That sucker would be silenced in no time!
I cannot even tell you how many distractions popped up while I was creating this post, and how much longer it took me than it should have (oh the irony).
In the business world, we don’t speak to distractions very often. You will see articles written about marketing strategies, productivity and time management… but hardly anyone speaks to the large and severe impact distractions have on our lives.
When I realized just how harmful distractions are
A couple of years ago I had an “ah-ha” moment.
I had been sitting down to get some work done. I felt totally accomplished because I had time blocked my schedule like a boss (I was CRUSHING it)
Then, the distractions started coming in…
First it was the initial chime of my text. *Smile* It was my out of state friend whom I haven’t chatted with in FOREVER! Quick response. Set the phone down.
In walks my youngest with random stats and quotes about what he had learned about penguins. “He’s so cute when he’s sharing things he’s excited about” I think to myself. He walks away to share the penguin news with his sister.
I see an email notification at the top of my screen. Junk mail. A quick clean up will do.
Ding! Text response from my friend.
Meow. My cat has joined the party.
I spent the entire hour I had time blocked, responding to distractions.
It was then that I realized…
Time Management means NOTHING without Distraction Management.
In order for us to be the most effective, productive and accomplished at ANYTHING, we need to prioritize time for the things we want to accomplish. This includes the things you rarely put down in your schedule, and just automatically assume you will make time for like gym time, family time, writing time, work time and so on. We need to put these things down in our planner and then get rid of distractions so we can ACTUALLY do what we want and need to do.
Managing our distractions gives us the clarity to do what we want to do while also executing with the quality that we had intended.
How do we manage our distractions?
First we need to identify what distractions there are in our household or in our workspace. Like I mentioned above some are subtle, and some can be disguised in cuteness. Make a list of things that could distract you during a time that you’ve set aside to be efficient and productive.
Here are some of my distractions, and tips on how I manage them:
I remove my phone from my workspace, dinner table, family time, and date night time. When I’m with my people, or working on my business… the phone goes bye-bye.
I hide all my tabs on my computer, and only work from one at a time (instead of the entire library of tabs that distract me across the top)
I have all of my social media notifications turned off (yes, at all times).
I have screen time limits set on my phone for certain apps (example, all social media apps get only a collective 1.5 hours of my time per day.)
I have a bedtime reminder that goes off every night. I am an early riser and sleep is very important for our health. No matter how engaged I am with a book, a project, or my skincare routine, I ensure that I do not get carried away and too distracted to get to bed on time.
I enable “Downtime” on my phone by graying it out from 9:30pm – 7:00am. This quiets that notifications that could come in (late night texts, early morning emails, etc) and reminds me to be as “unplugged” as possible during those hours.
How do you manage your distractions ? Share below so we can learn new ways to be more engaged and present!