Managing Your Distractions (So They Don’t Manage You)
The word “distractions” came up in a meeting the other day. It’s an interesting word. Synonyms include things like diversion, disturbance, interruption, and interference. Distractions are things that hinder us in moving from point A to point B and oppose us in reaching our goals. We’re not talking cat videos or ESPN here… What do you do when the things that are distracting you are good things that provide value as well? What if they’re things that need to get done? What if your distractions aren’t bad? Then what?
Think about it like this. For many of us in our organizations, we’re constantly walking a tightrope trying to balance working IN our business vs. working ON our business. There are products and services that need to be delivered today, and the things we need to be investing time and energy into for tomorrow. We have fires that require our attention right now, and the seeds we need to be planting today that we’ll harvest in the future. Sometimes the difference between the distraction and the things that are keeping the lights on is blurry.
Sometimes our distractions are good, valuable things that need to get done.
So how do you know which one is which, and what can you do to keep yourself from being distracted from your goals? Here are four simple steps you can use to help manage the distractions…
Managing distractions begins by creating a clear picture of where you want to go. What’s your destination? What are your goals? Just like planning your summer vacation, everything begins with defining where you’re heading.
Having clarity around your destination will allow you to prioritize where you’re putting your energy. Since we all have limited time and resources, it’s essential to look at where our energy is best spent on any given day.
Can’t do it all? Welcome to the club. Learning to delegate, and having a team of people around you that you can trust, will make room for you to offload some of the good distractions – the good things that need to get done, just not by you.
Not all distractions are good. Some are just interruptions that are interfering with our progress. Being able to see these for what they are, and to eliminate them, is a critical step in managing your distractions.
If we had written this a year ago, we could have ended it here. But let’s talk about the elephant in the room. 2020 has been plagued with distractions, the kind that have layered in right over the top of all our regular distractions. COVID-19, wearing masks, an unstable economy, an election year, and all the uncertainty that has come with this year… allowing ourselves to be distracted has never been easier.
But here’s the thing… these are things that we allow ourselves to be distracted by. As in, we give them that power to distract us. You may or may not agree with this, but here’s our stance on this. We can choose whether we’re going to let 2020’s distractions take us off course, or if we’re going to make the adjustments we need to and keep pushing ahead. Many times our distractions become anchors, and they work to keep us in one spot, not allowing us to move forward.
More than ever, we need to be in control of our distractions and focus on the most important things, not all the things.
Map, prioritize, delegate, and cut. Professionally or personally, go through that exercise and start to manage your distractions so they don’t manage you.
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