Last week I talked about the difference between details and distractions (http://wp.me/p3NHIa-h). This week, we’ll look at how to keep distractions under control and how to keep the unending list of web resources from sucking you into a time-wasting abyss.
I don’t want to make this complicated but, yes, some details become distractions when dealt with in the wrong way. Email, social networks, text messages, and even blogs, are all valuable resources in their proper time and place. They become a distraction when they are allowed to invade your life without purpose and planning. So, here are some questions to consider that will help keep these “details” working for you and not against you as a “distraction”:
Did I prepare a marketing plan for the year that includes these media, with specific goals and strategies for each?
Do I set aside time to completely focus on these – and avoid them at all other times?
What are the important issues of my life and business?
What experience do I want people to have coming through my door or looking me up online? What is the first impression I give? How do I want people to feel when they leave my presence, or my business?
Do I prioritize my family time? Do I give my undivided attention to the people most important to me daily (for at least 1 hour)?
Am I selective with my friendships? Am I building strong ones with people who share my priorities?
Without doubt, it is very easy to get sucked into hours-worth of mind-dumbing distractions. We all need down-time – but, like dessert, a small amount is probably good for our soul, but the more we “eat,” the worse we feel, the more it affects our overall health, and the more those around us will start to question why we’re getting so “fat” – fat headed, at least. So, how addicted are you to distractions?
SOAPBOX WARNING – I am a firm believer that if you are on your phone or computer at work and it’s not work related – you are STEALING from your employer. If it is work related but you are using more time than is truly necessary – you are STEALING from your employer. If you are the boss and you do this, you are STEALING from yourself. Lack of productivity = loss of income (and yes, your employees know you are doing it and will follow your example…)
Distraction Junkie: The symptoms of a Distraction Junkie include lack of focus, inability to complete a task, are often considered lazy, are constantly fiddling with their cellphone or computer, and seem to “always” be on Facebook, games, email, texting, etc. If this is you, and you want to change, wean yourself off by setting aside Distraction Down-Time.
Distraction Down-Timer: Along with being the evening TV watchers, they check email, networking sites, or play games (step away from the Candy Crush!) several times a day, (including at work), and even more if stressed. This is probably where most Americans fall. Be mindful of what you watch, read, and play, and how it affects you mentally and emotionally. Decide if you need to limit the amount of TV you watch daily; consider other down-time choices – take a walk, read a book, play with the dog – and “unplug” from the tech for a while.
Distraction Killers: If you are a Distraction Killer, you need to take a break. If you are a workaholic, you probably fall here. They are often inefficient in their work – because they insist on doing it all themselves, and complain that no one else can do it. They rarely if ever take vacations, never go to continuing education or development classes (“it’s a waste of time”) and will see some things as “details” that, at their level of management or leadership, are really just “distracting” them from much more important work they should be doing. The mind and body require some level of distraction – a.k.a., “amusement,” to be happy and healthy. If you are a Distraction Killer, I urge you to IMMEDIATELY:
- Take a vacation – at least 1 week. Your team can handle it for that long without you. Trust me, they want you to.
- Make a list of duties or responsibilities you are doing that someone else in your organization can do at least 80% as well as you – then give those responsibilities to them, with a raise, or hire the right person and get this done. It will be painful for the moment, but you will thank me later.
- Include “down time” in your daily schedule. Use it to read a book, take a leisurely walk, spend time with your friends or family, get a dog, whatever. At least 1-2 hours PER DAY. You will be a much happier, healthier, and productive person for it.
(Of course, the Distraction Killers are not wasting their time reading this blog, so someone will have to print it and put it on their desk…)
If you keep these ideas in mind, you’ll be able to focus your time better, keep social networking in the right priority, and reign in the urge to go completely brain-dead for hours watching YouTube videos of cute animals, epic fails, and gameplays… at least, most of the time…
Next week: What Coaching ISN’T…
A special shout out to Mage-of-Blue, who took me to blogging school this week. Check out her beautiful photos of Savannah gardens and original poetry at http://mageofblue.wordpress.com/