Each year I like to have a 'word' or 'mantra' to keep me pursuing my goals, my dreams and to enable me to get the most out of this life journey I'm on- last year my word was 'focus' - I felt, I still do to a degree, that I'm very easily distracted and my ability to focus can be somewhat hindered. I became that bit more 'focused' last year which resulted in the changes that I made in my life that have led me to where I am now.
For way too long I have allowed distractions to get in my way. They have got in the way of progressing me personally and professionally, they have hindered me achieving what I want to achieve, feeling how I want to feel, actioning what I want/need to action plus they have an effect on my psyche and my mental well-being. When I allow distractions to take precedence this affects my mind in such a way that I end up beating myself up about it and actually feeling quite down and frustrated.
Distractions can be anything from somebody texting you/calling you whilst you’re in the middle of something to your mind wandering off on a tangent disrupting your focus on a task. I personally think in the 21st Century it is incredibly difficult not to be immune to distractions, what with the constant flow of information through the numerous communication channels we now have, including social media, and the seemingly 24/7 lifestyles that our lives seem to have become. There also seems to be a requirement to be constantly available with the expectation to respond to messages, text, calls, emails straight away – it’s no wonder we’re all distracted, there is so much to be distracted by!
But … if you are constantly distracted then this will eventually have a detrimental effect on your health and the quality of your life so it needs to be managed. So far whilst I’ve been writing this I’ve received numerous emails (for some reason I have four email addresses!), a phone call from one daughter, a number of text messages from my other daughter plus my other half is on a day off today so he is in and out of ‘our’ office – this is on top of receiving notifications from various social media sites and having my mind wander off in different directions thinking of other things that I need to be doing. It’s not hard to see why I get distracted and ‘focus’ is definitely a challenging task for me.
I’m not sure if I’m like this because there’s always so much that I want to do, whether it’s because I do have a habit of becoming bored quite quickly (or is this because I don’t focus!), whether it’s to do with the modern age we live in, whether it’s the way my brain is wired or one of many other reasons. What I do know though is that something needs to be done to manage the distractions because otherwise as, Jill Coleman says, I won’t be able to GSD (Get Shit Done!).
So, what have I done, what am I doing and what am I going to do, what strategies am I going to implement to firstly reduce the number of distractions I succumb to and secondly to GSD?!
- Write a to do list in one place, I have so many lists (I even have lists of lists!) in a variety of different places including post it notes, scraps of paper, in notebooks, you name it if there’s pen and paper I will have written something I need to do on it – this is a distraction in itself as I’m wasting time with different lists and often hunting for them!
- Switch off what I don’t need for what I’m focusing/working on, not always easy as a lot of my work is on the computer and it is so so tempting to have all the windows/programmes open so you can tap in and out of them, telling yourself you’re just keeping an eye, making sure that you know what’s going on, just in case (I’m a great one for ‘just in case’ but that’s a story for another blog!)
- Try to ‘structure’ my time more and let people know when I’m working and won’t be available – as much as I love working from home I think that means other people think I’m always available to chat, pop to the shops, out for lunch – as much as I want to do those things as well I need to integrate them into my life in a much more productive way.
- Undertake some research as to how else I can manage the distractions better and hopefully find out what it is about me personally that causes me to allow distractions to intrude so much.
- I have, during this last year, purchased a lovely noticeboard for my office which I had personalised with ‘Live your life to the full’ on it, to be a constant reminder to get on with things to enable this to happen. On this noticeboard I have posted my yearly calendar, my monthly calendar and my weekly planner, all are subject to change but they are a visual representation of what I need, and want, to get done and to achieve. I’ve also stuck a few quotes around it to keep them in my mind as I get on with my work.
- Organised my home office to minimise distractions – I’ve de-cluttered A LOT! I had to spend time doing this but … it has now freed up time where I don’t get distracted by a mountain of paperwork and just ‘things’ being in either my view or just my way.
- Meditate – this is something I’ve never been too sure about and I’ve kind of drifted in and out of wanting to do it, or, sometimes take it seriously but … I have found that the more I have done it, the more focused I find myself being able to be so … I guess there is something to it! I use the headspace app but there are lots of different apps, classes and programmes around so have a play and find out what works best for you.
- Yoga. Whilst I practice yoga, and for a time after having done so, my ability to be in the moment is so much more heightened. Whilst I practice, especially in a class setting, I am so focused on the practice itself that there are very few times when my mind wanders or becomes distracted and … this I’ve found continues after the practice which helps me to be so much more productive.
Maybe you are also struggling with distractions – what strategies are you working on to reduce them? Maybe you used to struggle but now you have found ways in which to manage them, it would be great to hear from you if this is the case and to see what worked for you. It’s always good to share!
Oh and adding to last year's word of 'focus', this year my word is 'consistency' – more of this in another blog but what’s yours?
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