LESS DISTRACTIONS, ANYONE?
Sign me up.
The reality is, so often no matter how well we manage our time and put on our productivity hats, distractions can often get in the way. They can come in all shapes and sizes:
- Children, pets, spouses, family members
- Inner chatter and negative thinking
- Outside comparisons
- Shiny objects and rabbit holes
- People-pleasing, perfectionism
- False beliefs
- And of course, all the pings, bings, notifications, zings, and badingadings that get in our way of working in peace
If you’re ready for way less distractions, this blog is for you!
Lessening Internal Distractions
- Imposter syndrome
It’s a choose-your-own adventure in the entrepreneurial space where there’s no shortage of inner distractions and noisy chatter.
Recently, I was cleaning my house and listening to podcasts (my usual Saturday morning activity). A podcaster I admire did an episode on something I really “SHOULD” be the one doing an episode on.
She’d veered a bit out of her lane, and into mine, and all of the sudden panic, comparison, shiny object syndrome, and competition set in all at once. It was like I came down with the inner chatter flu and was experiencing a vast array of symptoms and emotions.
“Why am I not doing this as an episode!?”
“I need to do this as an episode!”
“Maybe I should do it for this week instead of what I’d planned?”
“Maybe I should go upstairs to my office and work on it RIGHT NOW!?”
Ahhh, a lovely inner chorus to mop my floors to, and it was entirely distracting me from:
- The present task at hand
- The direction I’m going in MY content plan
- The goals I have for MY business right now
It was distracting me from feeling more joy and confidence in my life and business.
We don’t often think about these sorts of things as distractions. But can you see how it quickly took me for a ride and I started questioning my own goals, plan, vision, and strategy?
When this happens, we can use it as an invitation to explore and ask ourselves more questions.
Get quiet and listen:
- What am I feeling right now?
- Why am I feeling this way?
- Is this really something that I GENUINELY want and want to create?
- Is this something for right now?
- What are my next steps forward?
When I pull back and look at the big picture of what she’s creating vs. what I’m creating – we’re going for very different things. Our personalities are different. I’d never want to run my business the way she runs hers, we deliver our content very differently. And yes, I will create an episode on this topic (it’s in fact been on my list all year as a topic idea) but I don’t need to do it NOW.
Right now, I’m mopping.
Ready for another fun one? People-pleasing!
Raise your hand or nod your head or do a jiggle if you’ve ever said “yes” to something that was sort of notttttt your thing but you wanted to make someone else happy, or you were worried about what they’d say if you said no?
My hand is raised. My head has been nodding as I write this paragraph, and I’m jiggling.
I’ve been there. Many of us have.
People-pleasing is a huge distraction.
And giving into it is NOT the path to fewer distractions in your life, it’s the bullet train to MORE. Scattering your time and attention.
Saying yes to things because of someone else’s pressure (either real or imagined), perceptions, feelings, etc. often sets us off in unintended directions, in situations and circumstances that suck our time, energy, and bandwidth.
This blog (not written by me) has 11 suggestions to STOP being a people-pleaser. My favorite tips from it:
- Say you’ll get back to them
- Change “I can’t” to an “I don’t” statement
- Know your goals
- Get rid of toxic people
- Stop apologizing
Let’s move onto perfectionism.
Another lovely distraction. Have you ever sat down in front of something for way too long because you’re certain if you can just give it another hour, tweak it just once more, you can get it PERFECT?
You don’t need me to tell you perfect doesn’t exist. But seriously, can we just stop with this? There’s a difference between high standards (admirable and achievable) and perfectionism (obnoxious and distracting).
Others I’d add to this list are: procrastination, imposter syndrome, fear, and not giving yourself breaks and downtime to really rest.
The key to less external distractions
Emails, text notifications, instant messages, social media notifications, Slack, phone calls, and more.
We live in a noisy noisy world where lots of external forces are vying for our attention. Some of it’s out of our control (I know you can’t shut out your kids and spouse), but some of it, we can help.
Here are three things I do to help myself stop getting distracted by all the pings, bings, and dings while working:
- I set aside specific time for email, checking in on social media, Voxer, and replying to texts. I check my email several times throughout the day and set aside time for thorough, lengthier replies. I close the tab in my browser when I’m working on a project. I have this same system with social media. Even right now, I’m tempted to have Facebook open in my browser, but I don’t because I know it just serves as a distraction.
- I don’t have push notifications on my phone, except for text. Except for texting, a family WhatsApp thread, and the security systems at my house, nothing pings, bings, or vibrates on my phone.
- I use Do Not Disturb on my phone liberally. When I’m in a serious time block and need to concentrate, I put my phone in Do Not Disturb (I have an iPhone) and I turn it upside down or put it in another room entirely.
Could you do any of these? I want you to really think about it. What would happen if you carved out your time block and then put your phone in do not disturb? What would happen if you closed EVERY tab except the ones with things you’re working on and you TURNED your phone upside even!?
Note: I know for some of you, you might need your school and spouse to be able to get through in Do Not Disturb, and fortunately for you, there are settings for that!
You might have to inform your team, family, and friends of what you’re doing so they don’t worry and they can also help you uphold the boundary!
I think as entrepreneurs a lot of people view our time (and we sometimes do too) as sort of loose and give-away-able. My little brother is a great example. He’s constantly calling me in the middle of my workday to chat.
What does he want to chat about? This, that, the other thing, mostly nothing. This is no offense to my brother, I love him and want to be there for him, but I can’t answer his calls when I’m trying to get work done. I completely lose my focus, train of thought, and energy.
People can place this expectation on you, just because you’re an entrepreneur, you’re available anytime! You make your own schedule, right!? So naturally, they might try to convince you that they should be part of it.
It’s up to YOU to set the boundaries you want and become… distraction-proof!
A remedy to lessen distracting rabbit holes
Shiny objects, Instagram rabbit holes, songs you’re listening to on Spotify, and then next thing you know you’re creating a playlist for your next camping trip…
My best advice here is really to:
- Close the tabs you don’t need
- If an idea/notion/thought/rabbit hole invitation pops into your head, write it down on a piece of paper (I keep one next to me while working) and explore it later
- Work with some sort of lyric-less music playing (binaural beats, classical, house, etc.) so you’re less likely to be distracted in the first place
- Don’t give in but DO jot it down to give your brain some relief that you’ll look it up later
The myth that there’s a bottom of the pile
One last distraction I want to bring up is a myth, a nagging feeling, that if we just keep on going… keep on doing… one day, we’ll hit the bottom of the pile. We’ll have accomplished it all.
My friend, there’s no bottom of the pile. It’s truly a never-ending cycle and it’s OK. The sooner we come to terms with the fact that we’ll never accomplish it all (nor should we focus on striving for that specifically), the better.
The moment you take something away, the moment something new gets added to your plate.
It’s a losing battle and it can be highly distracting to feel the pressure otherwise.
The real key to overcoming and lessening distractions is to have a solid WHY and check in with it. Make sure you’re focused on what matters most to YOU. And not just checking boxes to checkboxes. Because there will always be more to check, and if you live each day trying to catch ’em all… you’re going to burn yourself out, be constantly distracted and disconnected from your work, and be less interested in focusing in the first place.
Need to talk through distractions around content creation?
Want someone to just take it off your plate entirely? It’s OK if the reason you’re getting distracted is because you’re just not that into it… I can help!
Contact Me here and let’s see if we’re a good fit. I’ll take one more distraction off your plate and free you up to do more of what you love!
P.S. I don’t have kids of my own, and I cannot speak to the immense amount of responsibility and sacrifice that I know parents have and make for their children. Hopefully, something in this was helpful for you too.