Distractions can be that convenient excuse that keeps you from doing something that is outside of your comfort zone. We make those distractions seem more important than what we’re supposed to be paying attention to. Then, we get upset at ourselves when the objectives don’t get accomplished.
There are many causes as to why we get sidetracked, including:
- Your thoughts become your actions. If your inner voice is screaming that you are not worthy of success, you pursue the distractions not the plan. Because you pursue the distractions, you don’t accomplish what you intended, creating a self-limiting cycle. Your thoughts become your actions.
- You get something from the distraction. If you’re busy helping everyone else, you may be getting that much-needed external affirmation from them. This is motivating you to continue with the distraction.
- You have the Shiny New Penny Syndrome. You are hardwired for being interested new things because they satisfy and challenge you. As a result, you are naturally and easily sidetracked by that next new idea (or new penny). The distraction is a short-term motivator yet has long-term consequences.
- Your vision is unclear and undefined. It’s like planning a vacation without knowing your destination. You drive around in circles so any distraction feels like a new direction.
The next time you’re distracted, try these tactics to keep on task or determine if it’s a distraction worth taking:
Change Your Thoughts and Watch Your Actions Change. When you hear your inner voice throwing critical comments, become cognizant of when they occur. Exchange the negative banter with a specific, positive thought. Over time, you’ll notice the inner critic shows up less and less replaced by positive thoughts (and action).
Clear mind + clear plan = clear outcomes. It’s easy to get sidelined as to why you started an initiative in the first place. When I work with my clients on their business planning, we look at all of their systems within their business. They get a clear mind, including what to expect in terms of preferred client, sales flow, planned revenue as well as their products and services offerings. With this infrastructure in place, you establish your business direction giving you a higher chance of success.
Assess the Level of Importance. Once you’re clear on your plan, you are then able to assess the level of importance of that interruption.
If the interruption has low importance, such as your neighbor calls you to discuss yesterday’s ball game or this weekend’s picnic, politely let them know you’re in the middle of getting a report to your client and that you will call them back later. Jot down their request on a notepad or in your calendar as an appointment. When you have completed your client’s report, go back to your notepad or calendar as a reminder to follow up.
If the interruption has high importance, such as the client who is following up with you on an important outstanding matter you must get resolved, you may choose to allow the interruption. Jot down where you left off and your next step before you take the interruption. Once you have done that, you can give your client your full attention. A quick glance at your note and you know where you left off reducing the time to get back on track. If technology is more your style, choose tools such as replylater.com, stickynote.org, or rescuetime.com that can help you to stay on task and true to your plan.
Stick to the Most Important Tools and Systems. When working with my clients, they learn about how to put systems together so their business operates more efficiently. It’s easy to get overloaded and swallowed up in systematizing your business. The key is to stick with the most important systems and tools that relate to your bottom line and provide the most leverage. Ask yourself if that system or tool is adding value in attracting clients and/or generating income.
Before you get the day started, minimize your distractions by reviewing your plan and identifying the top three initiatives you want to accomplish. If you have a strategy to deal with distractions from the start of your day, getting the work done is so much easier!
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