What if you could interrupt the distractions before they knocked you out of balance?
What if you could interrupt the distractions even before they became distracting?
What if you could interrupt the distractions and find ways to turn them into attractions?
You can find your way to keep the focus you need to build your success simply by interrupting the distractions working to hold you back.
The more things interrupt your flow, the harder it becomes to accomplish your goals. Put a stop to the disruptions by interrupting the distractions around you.
What is a Distraction?
A distraction is anything that stops you from moving forward.
Several years ago, the movie Spiderwick Chronicles featured a hobgoblin named Hogsqueal. Hogsqueal has an affinity for birds. If he sees a bird, he has to stop everything and focus on the bird. Even during an important conversation, where he’s literally sharing life-saving information, he gets distracted by a bird a walks away.
Distractions do that to us all the time, sometimes in big ways but more often in small, little bits.
You are working on an important presentation when your email alerts and the alert provides just enough information to catch your attention.
“I need to read that and it’ll only take a minute.” So you do.
While you are reading that email, you notice several others. Since you’re alread in your emails, you decide to knock those out.
Anyone else trying to play the Inbox Zero game?
When you look up at your clock, you see that a whole hour has slipped away as you took that “one minute” to answer an email.
Distractions work that way. They syphon off your time, your energy, and especially your focus. Once they are gone, you can’t get them back – at least not to where you were.
How Do You Interrupt the Distractions?
You interrupt a distraction by blocking it before it can do any damage. In other words, you put on blinders.
You may have seen a horse running a raise or pulling a cart and noticed the large flaps on the side of his head. These blinders are there to keep the horse focused on what is in front of him.
Horses have eyes on the side of their heads, which allows them not only to see what is going on beside them, but also to see almost completely behind them. Horses have a 350 degree field of view. The average human has only 190 degree field of vision.
In order to keep the horse focused on the job at hand, the blinders are attached to the harness or bridle. The distractions are interrupted and the horse remains on task.
You have to find ways to put on your blinders so you can get the job – both metaphorical blinders and physical blinders (although your blinders probably won’t attach to a bridle). The key to interrupting the distractions is finding what works for you, to know when different things will work better, and then to put those blinders in play.
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7 Ways to Interrupt the Distractions
1. Plan your day
When you take time to define what is important for your day (and in your day) then you will cut the distractions off before they get started. Choose no more than three things that are truly important for your MUST DO list.
2. Write it down
Not only do you need to have a plan for the day, but you need to write it down. Even if you keep up with your schedule on a digital device, take a moment to write down your three MUST DO items for the day. Writing it down will help it solidify in your mind. A solidified plan will interrupt the distractions.
3. Tell Them About It
Tell the people you are around about your plans. Whether you work in the office or from home, the people you work around need to understand how you have planned to invest your time. If they don’t know, they may plan something that contradicts with what you have planned and then their plans become a distraction to yours.
4. Hide (or At Least Get to an Alone Place)
You will do better to stay focused when others aren’t around you to distract you from your MUST DO list. If you can hide away and get things done, by all means, hide. If you are a mother of three home schooled boys who is working from home, you can run and hide but they’ll find you. In cases such as these, make a place where you can be alone or carve out time in your schedule to go to an alone place. Libraries make excellent quite away from home office retreats.
5. Turn Off Notifications
Nothing disrupts a focus as much as the bleep, buzz, or honk of your notifications. Even if you are determined not to look, you are compelled to look. Don’t believe me? Leave your notifications open during church or some other “must pay attention” time. You look, even if you don’t respond, and when you look, you are distracted.
Turn off notifications (or, even better, turn off the things that give you notifications). Even if you mute them, they’ll catch your attention. Once your attention is seized, you are distracted enough to lose your place.
6. Just Say No
Whole books have been written on how to say no. Just recently, we shared the post about the power of saying no.
Ignore or decline all unsolicited requests (this also applies to unwanted requests). Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you are the best one to do it. This directly applies to the family now home for vacation break.
7. Break the Multi-tasking Habit
Multi-tasking is when you try to do more than one MUST DO project at the same time. You give a little bit here and then a little bit there and your focus never remains in the same place – meaning you’re never completely focused.
Break the habit of multi-tasking. When you try to do too many things all at the same time, you end up not accomplishing any one thing.
Now that you know how to interrupt the distractions, let’s talk a little about staying on target.
How can we stay on target?
The most important thing you can do when growing your business is to stay on target. It some instances, it’s better to be completely off target than to be just a little bit off. At least if you aren’t even aimed at the target you know you’re going to miss. If you are off just a little, you won’t know until you review your actions whether or not you are aimed correctly.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how great your efforts or your actions if they don’t get you to where you want to go.
- Set a schedule. A schedule times out how you are going to fulfill your plan. Inexpensive digital times set at different intervals are excellent for helping time out a schedule.
- Grab a buddy. An accountability partner is an excellent resource for keeping you on track of your MUST DO list.
HINT: NEVER (and I can’t emphasize this enough) NEVER ask your kids to be your accountability partner. They get drunk with power.
- Keep a record of your actions. When you write it down it becomes impossible to deny where you might stray.
- Review regularly. Check your aim to be sure you are still pointed in the right direction.
You can cage the birds and squirrels. It takes determination and consistency, but with a little investment you will find your way to interrupt the distractions and stay focused on building your success.
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Kathryn Lang believes it is simple, and as an award-winning author and natural-born hopesmith, she shares tips on how to find your why, pursue your purpose, and live a bold, intentional life – always with a dash of twisted encouragement.