Distractions have become a way of life. Your phone sends you an alert, you get an email, someone walks in while your working on a project. Even working in a quiet environment can be fraught with distractions. Working as a Business and Marketing Consultant in South Florida, I face these issues just like you do.
This year I’ve been extra distracted. Having bought a home and spent the better part of the year managing its renovations took its toll on my focus. Even once we’d moved in, there was always a contractor needing a decision made, material to be bought, or an issue to discuss. Adding those distractions to working from home, having extra people in my house and my space has been tough.
The completion of this task has led me back to examining my workflow. I am now prioritizing removing distractions for my daily life. Don’t misunderstand me, some you cannot remove and shouldn’t even be called distractions, how about ‘enhancements’. Like your family. Sure, working from home is great, but the constant noise level and interactions over summer certainly took its toll. Those ‘enhancements’ are all about finding balance, it’s the real distractions that I’m focusing on right now.
Focus on What Distractions You Can Remove
So I’m starting with the true distractions that I can limit or remove. In his book, The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss outlines the basic steps to batching your time. The basic idea is to apply focus to one, schedule project at a time. Make that one project the only thing you do for a timeframe and do it effectively, not just efficiently. He examined all this before the smartphone revolution, before email and text become primary methods of client communication, and before the incessant diversion of social media.
Emails can be a major distraction. One quick response turns into an email chain, turns into something new to research and now you’re totally off track. Schedule yourself a time to check and respond to emails. Create a checklist of items to do AFTER you finish with emails. Then leave them alone until the next time you’re scheduled to check them, say after lunch or before you ‘clock-out’ for the day.
Turn off notifications on your phone for a time period, especially if you need to be creative. Nothing sucks away creativity like the ping of a phone. It’s hard to do, especially if you have people who NEED to contact you (say kids at school), so set yourself regular intervals and timeframes to check them (I.E. 5 minutes at 10am) and stick to it.
Choose Wisely, Value Your Own Time
Next, look at the bigger picture. Your time is one of your most valuable assets. Review some specific areas in your life to see if they are truly adding value. Ask yourself, ‘Is this creating a better life for myself, for my family.’ If not, it might be a distraction waiting to be eliminated.
That Side Hustle:
It seems everyone’s got a side hustle these days. Whether it’s an income source, a pro-bono project that will look great on our resume or a side project we’re doing more for the experience that the paycheck, we need to value our time wisely. How much is that project consuming you? Does it interfere with your better-paying projects, other personal goals, other priorities? Does it bring you enough joy to trade your valuable time for it?
Networking, it’s the buzz word of the modern age, but when is it too much. In trying to grow a business you can often find me at social events, trying to get my name and brand out there, but I’m becoming pickier on how I spend my time. Assessing the value of the event, the type of clientele there, even the commute time can reduce the number of events you need to attend, without significantly compromising your networking efforts. It’s all about picking and choosing the best events to be distracted by.
What about toxic friendships and associates? We all know them and some of us are still losing valuable time from our lives because of them. Those people who only know you when they need something, or only bring you down when you see them. Weigh the value of your time and really consider these types of relationships. Chances are you can stop calling them and they won’t even notice. In fact, that might be a good litmus test. Stop investing your emotional capital in things that are not beneficial.
My goal, for the rest of 2019, is to focus on removing distractions from my business life. I think I’ve got a pretty good plan in place, but I’m always open to input. If you have any distractions that you’ve removed that have really helped, or suggestions or ideas, please post them in the comments below. I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my workflow and to improve the workflow of my clients