Distractions – This has been one of the most challenging areas of my life to deal with. Every day, I used to feel as if I had no control whatsoever. I was constantly distracted. My productivity kept falling and I knew there must be something that I can do to reduce the levels of distractions in my work and life. I had to make a decision to change or else, I would end up like everyone who is drenched by the multiplicity of distractors. I must admit this is still a hard one for me to manage and I am sure you feel the same. We are living in a world where everything is almost at our fingertips. Companies want more productive employees, homes need more connection time, schools need focused students – there is a problem. The distractions in society constantly sap our ability to connect and perform. How many times have we gone onto a social media page for just ONE message or update and spend the next hour perusing? I am guilty and this is something that I have been learning to master on my current journey. For us to be productive, there must be some way that we can break this vicious cycle of distractions.
Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil…. It’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time. ~ Margarita Tartakovsky
We seem to subscribe to plenty time wasting. Whether it is watching TV, streaming movies, video gaming (unless this is your job) or simply surfing the net, we do not seem to understand how to control the impulse of getting hooked and staying hooked. I guess when this happens commerce has done its work. I am not trying to lay any blame, but if we don’t get a handle on our distractions we will miss out on some of the magical moments in life – times when we could have been spontaneous. Paul Hawken (Author – The Ecology of Commerce: A declaration of sustainability) drives home the point about how commercialization has impacted our way of life. For example, he explains that a child gets fed constantly with the information they don’t really need – this leads to:
“…a gap between what a child feels and knows is right and reasonable, and what parents tell the child is right can lead to a schizophrenic worldview. By the time he or she graduates from high school, an American teenager will have seen 350,000 commercials.” ~ Paul Hawken
We can see where this is heading. Imagine how much more an adult would have seen in a lifetime – especially someone who travels. This speaks strongly to how distracted our world has become. Sadly, we have not been taught how to use these new social binges, so we just go with the flow. Thankfully, there are ways to get a detox. I will let you know right away that this does not include becoming a “cave man”. But, we must learn how to master our day to get the most out of it and avoid unnecessary distractors – this includes “some people.” In my search to find productive ways to work, I discovered a very interesting system called Time Blocking. Gary Keller and Jay Papasan explains in their #1 Wall Street Journal Best Seller book “The ONE Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results,” how we need to develop a system that will get us to more productivity – Time Block your ONE Thing. Then, they suggest using the focusing question: “Today, what is the ONE Thing I can do in my home, work, social settings such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Time block every aspect of your life – even your time off! This is a marvelous system to master and I encourage everyone to learn more about it. I am learning daily how to become more productive so as to achieve my ONE Thing. Here are a few tips on how to ward off distractions and keep you centered on your ONE Thing as outlined by Keller and Papasan:
Build a bunker. Find somewhere to work that takes you out of the path of disruption and interruption. For your office or cubicle space, get a “Do Not disturb” sign. Put up screens if possible. In any case find a way to stop interruptions at your work area.
Store provisions. Have any supplies, materials, snacks or beverages you need on hand and, other than for a bathroom break, avoid living your bunker. A simple trip to the coffee machine can derail your day should you encounter someone seeking to make you a part of theirs.
Sweep for mines. Turn off your phone, shut down your email, exit your internet browser if not in use. Your most important work deserves 100 percent of your attention.
Enlist support. Tell those most likely to seek you out what you’re doing and when you’ll be available. It’s amazing how accommodating others are when they see the big picture and know when they can access you.
If all else fails, use the focusing question to ask: What’s the ONE Thing I can do to protect my time block every day such that by doing it everything else I might do will be easier or unnecessary?
As you and I work to master our day and reduce the level of distractions around us, let us be consistent with the process. We can certainly produce extraordinary results. Today and every day can be more fruitful for us as we try to contend with this distracting world.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15
#Keep Doing Your Best Work!