Looking for tips for dealing with distractions?
Are you dealing with constant distractions at work?
Dealing with distractions can be a challenge – especially when it comes to your goals. On any given day, there will most certainly be unscheduled calls, impromptu meetings, and spontaneous new tasks all vying for your attention.
Things that divert your focus and steal time away from your pursuits.
When it comes to your goals though, you need that time. The more of it that you give away to unimportant notifications, the less you will have to work towards the things that matter most to you.
Distractions Abound No Matter What
I’m not immune to the hazards that distractions create. Even as someone that:
- And coaches
In the ways of goal setting, I still fall victim to distraction. Take this current moment in time, for instance. I have 10+ goals that I am actively working on. Which is a lot of fun.
But take a step back and you’ll see that there is a lot happening around me.
I have a small baby girl (our first child), my wife and I are both working from home, and childcare isn’t really an option right now. So distractions abound as my wife and I navigate the tightrope that is trying to be productive while giving a newborn the attention she deserves.
It’s a balance, like anything. A balance though that requires me to be deliberate about how I spend my time each day.
I Know How to Deal with Distraction
One of my goals this year is to complete at least two books a month – either in the form of an audiobook or physical book. Now, normally I’m a slow reader so in the past getting through one book a month was a challenge.
This year is different though.
I devised a plan around how I would read more and I got to it. As of April, I’ve already completed 16 books. 16! Nearly complete with my reading goal for the year before even hitting the halfway mark. All while ramping up my business, pursuing my other goals, and parenting alongside my wife as equal partners.
I know how to deal with distractions.
And through the following tips, you too will learn how to finally focus on achieving those goals you so want to achieve.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Engage with Your Kids While Working from Home
A Side Note
By the way, in case you’re curious, I attribute my ability to get through more books this year to two things that I had never tried before:
- Listening to audiobooks
- Speed reading
Audiobooks have allowed me to convert previously idle time (ie. folding laundry) into reading time, thus doubling the number of books I complete in a month.
Speed reading has changed my slow reading habits into more efficient ones while, seemingly, keeping my retention rate intact. Tim Ferriss has a great post on speed reading that I’ve been using.
Now, onto my tips for dealing with distractions.
Dealing with Distractions #1:
One Per Area
When it comes to how to be less distracted while pursuing a goal, you don’t want to overload yourself. Meaning that if you set goals to:
- Do a daily 60-minute yoga video
- Run five miles each day
- And lift weights five days a week
You have too many goals going on for one area of your life.
In this case, you are being distracted by having too many fitness-related goals to focus on. If you actually try to implement these goals, you will likely need to quit your job and move home because that’s the only way you’ll be able to spend six hours a day, five days a week working out.
For most people, that’s not an option.
Instead, I recommend only setting one goal for each area of your life. At least to start. At least until you have a handle on things.
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Defeat Distractions with Just One Goal
Now, you may be rolling your eyes thinking: this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I’ll show him! I’m going to stick with my three fitness goals because I know what I’m doing.
Hey, more power to you.
Just know though that you run the risk of burning out pretty fast. You may get one full day in, maybe even three or four. By the start of the second week though, you’re going to be so “over” six-hour workouts that you’ll likely trade the yoga mat for your couch.
But good news, either way you’ll have your yoga pants on.
With that in mind, set just one goal for each area of your life.
You can have a lot of goals – I certainly do – but the more you cram into one area, the more distracted you will feel. Because if you only have 45 minutes a day for education, you’re going to need to decide whether you want to focus on reading books or taking online courses.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Prioritize Your Time at Work and Home
You only have so much time. Choose your highest priority goal for each area of your life and focus just on that one. Everything else is a distraction.
So, how do you deal with constant distractions at work?
Or with your fitness?
Or with your education?
When dealing with distractions, set just one goal for each area of your life so that you dedicate the appropriate amount of time to each.
Dealing with Distractions #2:
Put It Aside
While pursuing your goals, another distraction you may face is the problem of new items that pop up. Normally, this looks like one of two things:
- New task-list items
- New goal-related items
The former, new task-list items, often follow this scenario… You’re working on your goal. Let’s say you want to publish a new post on your blog twice a week.
So there you are writing when you get a text from a friend asking for your help. She wants you to proofread her work report because she knows how great of a writer you are. You agree to help her, stop your own writing, and immediately start proofing your friend’s report (even though it isn’t due for another week).
See the problem? You just let that new task come into your life and derail the important goal right in front of you.
Write, Work, Revisit
There is an easy way to avoid distractions like this. Simply, keep a pad of paper nearby when you work. When a distraction like this arises, spend two seconds writing it down then return back to your goal.
Later in the day when you are satisfied with your goal progress, revisit your pad of to-dos and tackle them one at a time. Respond to your friend, unload the dishwasher, call your cousin back. Now’s the appropriate moment for that.
Not when you’re writing your blog post.
This is one of the best ways of dealing with distractions. I personally use a note on my phone because I like to keep things digital. Full disclosure though, I recently turned off all of my phone’s notifications so the only way I even see a message like this is when I deliberately check my texts or emails at specified periods in the day.
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Someday Maybe List
The other type of distractor is your new goal-related items. In this scenario, let’s say your goal is to play the piano once a day. How lovely.
Three weeks into your goal though, you have a wonderful idea pop into your head – I would love to learn to play the flute too. That would be so great!
- You’ve already committed to playing the piano once per day and are enjoying it…
- And you know you should really only have one goal per each area of your life, so adding the flute into the mix would be too much…
What do you do?
In David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, he mentions the concept of a Someday Maybe list. Part bucket list, part long term to-do list, his Someday Maybe list is composed of all the things that he would maybe like to do someday.
Returning to our example then, the Someday Maybe list is a perfect place for your flutey aspirations.
Write down your potential future goal and table it for a moment sometime down the road. For a moment better suited for that new goal. Check-in on your list every month or two and remind yourself of the goals or projects you may want to soon incorporate into your life.
Dealing with Distractions #3:
Don’t Lock It In Just Yet
See each new goal that you set like drying cement. Yes, it will eventually harden and become locked, but you have some time to adjust things before it does.
When I first started working with one of my goal coaching clients, she mentioned how she loved the idea of getting outside more. She wanted to create a goal around being outdoors while becoming more physically fit.
Initially, she wanted to:
- Run three days a week
- Do non-running cardio another two days a week
She figured this would force her to get outside more while enhancing her cardio efforts.
Quickly though, she realized that running was a distraction for her. What she ultimately wanted – to exercise outside – didn’t require her to run three days a week. There was a whole slew of other physical activities that she could do ranging from gardening to cycling to kayaking.
By forcing herself to run three days a week, she was burning out on something she didn’t enjoy and was getting distracted from what she actually wanted.
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Together, we created a new goal for her in its place. One much simpler and straightforward:
Do cardio five days a week.
That’s it. And even that she wouldn’t necessarily need to do outside if she didn’t want to. What she ultimately desired was to create a fitness regime that was flexible based on her numerous interests.
And that’s what we created for her.
Since making that change she is consistently hitting her weekly checkpoints, is preventing future burnout, and is thriving. She adjusted her goal, removed the distraction, and is happier and succeeding because of it.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Set Your Priorities
So when setting a new goal for yourself, particularly one that you haven’t tried before, give yourself time to make changes. See it as a probationary period. The cement is drying but it hasn’t dried just yet. If you feel unfocused, dissatisfied, or distracted by what you’re trying to do, change it.
Then once you feel like you’ve found the right fit, shove your handprints into the near-dry cement, sign your initials, and lock it in.
Dealing with distractions such as these becomes much more manageable when you view it through this lens.
Dealing with Distractions Moving Forward
How do you get rid of distractions? You don’t. Distraction is part of the process and there is no removing it entirely. But, there are ways to manage it.
Sure, you can make a list of distractions in life. You can write down every single notification that ails you. But that’s not the best use of your time. Instead, as distractions arise, recognize them. Revisit this post for strategies for handling them and make progress towards your goals like never before.
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Dealing with distractions isn’t easy, but it is possible.
Next time you’re feeling distracted, consider:
- Do you have too many goals in one area of your life? If so, remove some.
- Are there too many ideas bouncing around your head? If so, write them down and revisit them later.
- Are you working towards a goal that you don’t enjoy? If so, see that distraction as a red flag and change it.
Be deliberate and you will achieve your goals. It’s only a matter of time.
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How are you dealing with distractions?
More About Guest Contributor
Corey Fradin is the Founder of QuickBooost – a blog that helps you do more with your time (productivity, goal setting, that kind of thing). His passion for goal setting has led to him helping countless individuals achieve their goals.
Last Updated on August 8, 2020