Alright y’all. Let’s face it: Distractions are a fact of life.
You’re going to face them in every area of your life and your business, and the honest truth is that if we don’t face them, they’re going to keep us from getting things done. I want you to reach your goals and achieve everything you want in the coming year.
So let’s talk about how to stay focused and eliminate distractions.
All human beings are wired to be curious. We naturally gravitate toward the new, even if that keeps us from doing the things we need to do.
But not all distractions are created equal.
Let’s think of distractions in the form of a stop light.
Red Distractions: The distractions that you should ignore. STOP.
Proceed with caution.
Yellow Distractions: The distractions that cause you to slow down and think about.
Green Distractions: The distractions that demand your attention.
These types of distractions, like a squirrel zooming in front of you on a walk, divert you from your main task at hand. They might be new ideas, shiny objects, something more fun, or simply something that is going to help you procrastinate.
For me, this is a normal occurrence. They steal my attention away from what I’m really supposed to be doing. I am working on one idea or objective, something new pops up, and I focus on that instead.
It’s easy to get derailed by these types of distractions. But honestly, they are just squirrels. These go in the Red Distractions category because they are the types of distractions that you need to stop letting steal your focus.
You knew I was going to go here. I can’t talk about distractions without calling out the main culprit and source of distraction for so many of us.
Technology notifications distract us all day long. It’s a text when you’re in the middle of a project or a quick browse on Facebook when you really should be writing marketing copy.
Most types of technology distractions are examples of those that you can and should ignore. Those notifications come in 24/7, and they’re still going to be there when you get done with your task at hand.
Red Distractions are the easiest distractions to avoid. You shut it out, put on blinders, and force yourself to focus. This is a matter of will and discipline.
If you want to get anything done, set yourself up for success. You need to eliminate any possible chance for these distractions to come at you. Put on noise-canceling headphones, go to a room or coffee shop by yourself, close all the tabs on your computer, hide your phone, and get to work.
Force yourself to focus, and you’ll finally start finishing.
There are no hard and fast rules for ignoring these distractions. Proceed with caution, like you would at a stoplight. Stop and think before you let them steal your focus.
You’re going to encounter all kinds of people who have the potential to distract you—customers, team members, vendors, friends or family. When you have people in your life distracting you, you must stop and think before allowing them to steal your focus. Do their needs demand your attention, or can you set up a boundary until you have the space and time to address them?
Related: How to Say No And Stand Your Ground
Yes, kids are people, but we all know they present a different level of distraction than the other people in your life. Nothing can derail your plans like your kids. (Can I get an “Amen!”?)
Let’s be honest. When your kids need you, it’s because they need one of two things: They want to play or they need help.
Again, think about what is most important in that moment. Are you up against a deadline and you need to tell your kid you’ll play with them later? Or are you in a place where you can be present and seize a moment with them?
Related: Look For Distractions
Let’s go ahead and call something else out too: Your child will be disappointed.
How can I stay focused on my work at home and not disappoint my child? You can’t. I disappoint my boys in some way every day.
They want cake for breakfast, and I say no. Disappointment.
They want to drill their brother in the head with a plastic power drill, and I stop them. Disappointment.
They want to play outside barefoot in 20-degree weather, and I make them wear shoes. Disappointment.
As mothers, we are not strangers to disappointing our kids. This just feels harder because it feels optional. I get it. You’re often choosing between two things you love.
If your work is important to you, it’s okay to focus on that sometimes. In fact, it’s healthy for your kids to see you excited about and focused on something other than them once in a while.
You’re doing a good job with them, and sometimes, it’s okay to get back to work.
This one is easy. Green means go. These types of distractions are the ones that require you to stop what you’re doing and deal with it. These trump whatever task you’re working on.
These may start as a distraction but become a priority.
These are urgent and important things, like a crisis, emergencies, anything that is the absolute most important thing.
These categories are going to give you some guidelines and direction. They’ll help you determine whether you need to stay focused or pay attention to the distractions.
Curt Steinhorst is the best-selling author of the book, Can I Have Your Attention?: Inspiring Better Work Habits, Focusing Your Team, and Getting Stuff Done in the Constantly Connected Workplace.
Curt Steinhorst is no stranger to being distracted and was even diagnosed with ADD as a child. After spending years studying human behavior, Curt is on a mission to rescue us from our distracted selves. He founded Focuswise, where he coaches and equips organizations to overcome the challenges of being in a constantly connected workplace. His unique insight has helped executives, TV personalities and even well-known professional athletes effectively communicate and create focus while speaking, leading, and facing customers.
In this episode, Curt Steinhorst and I discuss how to stay focused and eliminate distractions in your business. We cover:
Related: Stop Doing Everything Yourself
We are in the thick of the Christmas season. I’ll be honest: It’s my favorite time of year, but it can also be the most stressful time of year.
It’s busy. It’s crazy. It’s fun. It’s all the things.
Instead of getting to December 26 and wondering where your time went, I have a simple challenge to help you focus on what is most important every day this season!
Here’s my challenge: Choose to do one thing every day that would make you really proud.
Sounds simple enough, but let’s talk about what that means.
One day, it might look like getting caught up on emails.
The next, you might get a manicure.
And the next, maybe it’s snuggling with your kids and watching a Christmas movie.
This gives you permission to change your mind and priorities every single day. You can balance productivity and rest. You can get things done in your business and enjoy yourself in the process.
It’s your season, and you don’t want to miss these moments with the ones you love most.
What would make you proudest today?
One of my favorite parts of this podcast is hearing directly from you. Give me a call on my toll-free line at 844.944.1074. You might hear your question on a future episode!
1:26 Identifying the Three Categories of Distractions
20:08 Staying Focused and Eliminating Distractions with Curt Steinhorst
59:50 Challenge to Choose Your Focus Daily During the Holiday Season
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