For most people distractions are a way of life. We live in a world where people are competing for our attention all the time and most of us feel the urge to take action and respond to those distractions without thought for what we are sacrificing.
When I used to respond to a distraction, basically I was saying… this text message, phone call, skype message, email, person interrupting me is more important than what I’m currently doing, so I’d respond and get caught up in the unconscious conditioning of my past.
Every time you allow something to distract you while you are doing something important, it takes a good 5 minutes or longer to get back into the flow of writing that blog post, recording the video, creating your information product, or completing your focused work. If you get distracted multiple times while you are trying to focus, you end up with a LOT of wasted time and a poorly finished product.
There are many ways we get distracted while working either using the Internet, or in our daily work place. I’ve picked out 5 of the biggest distractions so you can see how often they come up in your life and work time.
5 Major Distractions & How To Eliminate Them
1. Skype & Instant Messenger
I used to have Skype turned on all the time while I was working because I thought I was being clever. If it’s on, then people can contact me when they want to and I will be the little puppet waiting to reply. It didn’t matter what else I was doing, I was at their call 24 hours per day.
After realising that distractions were driving me mad and I wasn’t able to achieve anything during my days and weeks, Skype was one of the first things to get shut down!
So now I schedule my Skype activities for a certain time each day/week and most of my friends & colleagues know exactly what time they can reach me on Skype. Usually it’s 4pm GMT time, although it can vary depending on what else I have going on.
At the designated time I open up Skype when I want to be contacted and people respect my time because of it. I no longer get distracted by the “John Smith has just come online” notifications or the “Hello Gavin how are you today” type messages anymore.
I have Skype open for roughly 1 hour and then close it again. During that time I process all Skype messages which people have already left while it was closed and I work on low leverage activities, things I can do while replying to Skype messages. Work that doesn’t require a lot of focused attention like processing my email or paperwork, using Facebook or my social media activity or processing a video.
If for any reason you don’t want to totally turn off Skype, then use the status button and make yourself either busy or invisible. (Just remember to change the status back later when you want people to contact you
2. Constant Email Checking & Watching
There’s actually a fantastic book by Julie Morgernstern called ‘Never Check Your E-Mail In The Morning‘ and it’s so true! If I check my email first thing after waking up, I end up getting sidetracked and wasting time looking at pointless emails.
You may also be in the habit of checking emails every few hours, or even WORSE, keeping your email inbox open ALL the time! It’s just like a habit, an addiction… I used to do it all the time. I’d be working on something important and a few minutes later I’d find myself in my email inbox wading through useless information and checking if I’d had any emails so I could feel important and reply to them!
Most of us do this without thinking about it.
So, if you want to get anything meaningful done each day, schedule your email checking and replying for SPECIFIC times during the day. You’ll find my full article & videos on how to manage email overwhelm here.
Also, if you are using Microsoft Outlook, or similar, turn off the annoying pop up message or ‘ding’ noise which notifies you when you have a new message. It’s another huge distraction.
Check out for part 2 on the 5 Major Distractions & How To Eliminate Them which is now available, and if you’d like to get deeper into how and why to eliminate distractions and some of the more in depth strategies I use to manage my time, be sure to check out my 90 minute Double Your Business Productivity webinar.
P.S. Write me a comment below to let me know how you manage your time and eliminate distractions and feel free to ask me a question or give feedback on this post. If you found this post useful, please consider clicking the share buttons below to share it with your friends on Facebook and/or link to this post from your own blog posts.