Over the past couple of weeks, the words have just been flowing. I feel like I’ve written some of my best blog posts! Today, I want to add to this list and for me right now it’s just not happening. So, instead of writing about Ideas Marketing, I’m writing about how to overcome your distractions. Here’s what I do when I have a moment, hour or day when I just don’t feel like I’m being productive…
1 Deadlines or Not Deadlines
Sometimes a deadline can force me to stick at a task until it’s done. And, sometimes a deadline simply stresses me out.
TIP: If you work better with deadlines then create one to focus your attention. For most of us a commitment to another person holds greater weight than if we simply say it to ourselves.
2 Use the Force or Not
Sometimes it’s worth channeling Yoda to ‘use the force’. And, sometimes, you simply need to ‘use force’. The common wisdom about discipline suggests you simply have to push through whatever barrier is stopping you. Again, I think this works some of the time and not at others.
TIP: Use the force is another way of saying ‘be in flow’. Create some practices or habits around being in flow so you can spark more effective work habits.
3 Name It
Usually, when it’s not happening for me, I check what’s going on. Am I tired? Am I stressed? Is there something else I should be doing? Is there something else I’d rather be doing? I find it useful to name the distraction. Today, I am working whilst most people are celebrating a public holiday. Part of me wants to be celebrating too!
TIP: Identify and name the distraction. Then choose again whether you will continue to work or not.
4 Change your Activity
I view distraction as a function of emotion. If I were coaching myself right now I’d say I’m simply generating the wrong emotion for the task that I’ve set myself. Right now I don’t feel present or grounded. I’m focused on things other than the task I’m doing. And, the best way for me to resolve this is not to keep writing. Instead, it’s better for me to change my activity. And, ideally move my body! Instead of sitting and writing I can go for a walk, do some yoga stretches, wash the dishes, sweep the floor or a handful of star-jumps. By shifting my body I give myself the best chance of also shifting my emotional space.
TIP: If you’re really not being productive then change your activity, even if only for five minutes. This might be to stop writing and make some phone calls. Or, it might include getting your body moving.
5 Change your Location
Lately, I’ve been working at the Library at Docklands in Melbourne. It has a beautiful view over Victoria Harbour. The great thing about this library is that it has a number of different spaces that I can work in. There is a quiet room, a café, a general space and a workspace next to the video games. Some days I want complete peace and quiet and other days I want the noise and the clutter of the café or even the video games space.
TIP: If it’s not working for you where you are, change your location. Either switch to another room, work outside or travel to a new location, like a local coffee shop or library and work there.
6 Write about the Distraction
I believe the worst thing you can do is keep working around the distraction. And, one of the best things to do is to confront it. In this post, I’m taking it to the extreme where I’m actually writing about my distraction. This has me not only be present to what is going on, it’s also fleshing out some actions that I could take.
TIP: Engage in the distraction to find out what’s really going on and spend time exploring different ways to move forward. Make a list of things you could do to resolve it. Keep this list handy for future reference.
7 Stop and Walk Away
Sometimes the best thing to do when you’re distracted is to stop what you are doing and walk away. Rather than a sign of weakness, this can be the sign of a mature and wise person. The only caveat here is: don’t do this all the time. Have this as one of several strategies you employ.
TIP: The most powerful way to manage distractions is to know when to stop and walk away. Equally, know when to stick at it.
COMMENT: What do you do when you’re distracted? What strategies do you employ to get back on track?
PS: I’m had enough of this… I’m going for a walk…