Last week, 100% of the sessions with my clients either discussed or touched on priorities and distractions. They felt like their time was being “sucked” away from them. Since all my clients had this concern, I figured this would be a great topic to write about.
In our daily lives, information consumes us, and we are fighting a constant battle between staying focused and feeding into distractions which deplete our time.
What are Distractions?
Distractions are anything that pulls our focus away from the things that we want to or need to do. Distractions could be spending time on social media, spending time with friends to avoid doing what needs to be done, playing video games, watching TV, or drinking or doing drugs.
They get in the way of what we need to do because they are usually more desirable than the things we need to do. They are the “shiny object” that takes us away from our focus.
Distractions may also happen when we are working on a task, but something pops into our head, and we feel like we need to address what just popped into our head. As I’m writing this blog, I think to myself that I need to get the laundry started. I could walk away from writing and do the laundry, but I know if I do that, I’ll lose my thoughts, and it will take me a while to focus again. Laundry will have to wait.
Why Do We Feed into Distractions?
The simple answer is because the distractions are there, and we don’t focus. If we are working on something that we don’t like, or we aren’t interested in, it may be so much more fun to watch Reels on Instagram. However, fifteen minutes can go by, and we still haven’t accomplished our task. If we are trying to avoid something, like a project, or a difficult conversation, we may turn on the TV to tune out whatever it is that we don’t want to do.
These behaviors aren’t good for us because we can’t avoid doing what we inevitably must do. We just delay it, and time gets away from us. Then we get into an anxious state because we still must do the task we were trying to avoid doing.
Focus and prioritization are the best ways to combat distractions, and this is what I discussed with my clients last week.
How do you focus and prioritize?
- Maintain a calendar. We all have calendars on our phones and with our Gmail accounts. Use it.
- Keep a task list either on your phone or on paper. My phone has several of my task lists.
- Work with a Coach to determine your priorities. What you think may be important, may in reality not be important. You may be able to take items off of your plate.
- We all need time to clear our heads but limit your time to engage in your distraction of choice. If you want to check Facebook daily, give yourself fifteen minutes after dinner to look through your feed.
- Carve out time to check email, voicemail, and text messages. I give myself a half-hour in the morning before I start with my clients, and a half-hour in the afternoon after I’m done with my clients. I return calls and check and respond to email and direct messages on my social media business pages. If I didn’t do this my entire day would be consumed with email, phone calls, and social media and I wouldn’t have time for clients.
Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog post called Spring Clean Your Life, in that post I offered a piece of advice that I give my clients when they need to prioritize their To-Do list. I said that you should start with the least desired task first. This way you feel as sense of accomplishment for completing the task, you stay focused, and you eliminate distractions, because the tasks left are the tasks you enjoy.
Being Distraction Free
It is almost impossible to be free of distractions, but it is easy to gain the upper hand in the constant battle between staying focused and feeding into distractions when you have the right tools.
Stay focused. Take care of the tasks you don’t want to do but must complete (do those first). Celebrate your accomplishments. Do things to make you happy. Find the balance between work and fun. Priorities will always be there and so will distractions. Ignore the “shiny object” and keep your focus.