Distraction . . . sometimes our friend. Most of the time, not so much.
Occasionally we need a healthy distraction from the rapid pace of our lives. Playing 18 holes, walking the beach, planting flowers, etc. These pursuits can help us detach from work and catch our breath.
But most of the time, distraction is unhealthy. Our phone rings; email notifications beep; social media beckons; or people show up at inopportune times. These distractions crash your “work party” and get in the way of getting things done. In today’s post, Jaime Hlavin dives into the subject of dealing ruthlessly with party-crashers that steal our productivity and, let’s be honest, often frustrate us. Enjoy ~ John.
At the end of a long, “productive” day, I sat down to prepare my schedule for the next day.
Before making my to-do list, I reviewed what was accomplished so I could pat myself on the back for such a job well done. Every moment of my day had been consumed. STUFF. GOT. DONE!
I anticipated all the boxes on my to-do list would be completely checked off—after all, hadn’t I unsubscribed to a billion junk emails, washed the dog’s food bowl, returned some unused graduation party supplies, and organized a random junk drawer?
But alas, upon further reflection, I realized that in actuality I hadn’t been productive at all. Not one thing I’d accomplished was anything that I was passionate about and literally nothing pertained to what the Lord has assigned to me. I got faked out by busyness. In episode 143 of Leading from Alignment, John and Jim spoke in detail about how easy it is to allow busyness to fool us into thinking we’ve been productive. They focused on the importance of guarding what the Lord has assigned to each of us and presented three ways to ensure this happens:
- Devote the best part our day, time, and energy to our God-given purpose.
- Develop an approach to work that tracks with our mission and vision.
- Deal ruthlessly with distractions.
When I have days where busyness fools me into thinking I’ve been productive, I attempt to evaluate which of those three things I’ve violated. In what ways was I not careful about guarding what the Lord has assigned to me and doing only what I can do? I find that my biggest trouble spot is an inability to deal ruthlessly with distractions.
In an effort to contend with the constant barrage of interferences, I’ve come up with three ways to push back:
Figure out what distracts you most. Do phone notifications cause you to stop and check every ding, whistle, and woosh? Are you distracted by the sound of kids playing outside? Does the laughter of your coworkers fill you with FOMO? Take note of these things.
Deliberately put guardrails in place to remove these distractions while you are working. Put your phone on “do not disturb” or turn the notifications off on your lock screen. Better yet, place your phone away from you while you work. Are the kids playing outside? Close the shades and turn your laptop toward a window or area where you cannot see them, and then turn on some music. If your colleagues are having more fun than you can bear, maybe pack up and work away from them if possible—a coffee shop, an empty conference room, etc.
I know that “invoke” might seem to be a dramatic word, but I wanted them all to start with the same letter. What I mean by invoke is to develop a manageable framework that lends to productivity. Create specific parameters. I’ve found that when I do this, I’m less likely to get interrupted by distractions.
For example, work without interruption for thirty solid minutes and then give yourself a break. Or accomplish the top three most important things on your list and then do something easy or mindless. When you know that a break is just around the corner, it’s easier to push that distraction off until then.
Our lives can quickly be consumed with busyness that chokes out productiveness. We are apt to neglect our God-given assignments unless we figure out how to deal with the tyranny of the urgent. As I deal ruthlessly with the distractions in my life, it’s my hope you’ll join me in this endeavor.
A less distracted you is a better you.
We are rooting and praying for you!