Step 1: Reduce Distractions
If you’re like me, you know you have potential for a successful career, a contented home, a brilliant life. Yet we constantly put up barriers to our own success. We’re like marathon runners doing a 5K backwards or tennis players competing in scuba gear. We are just more subtle; we disable our prospects by “dis-ing” ourselves.
We allow distraction, disconnection and disorganization to confuse us. As we lose focus, we become dysfunctional and disregard opportunities. Thus we disqualify ourselves.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can get back in the game.
The first step is to overcome distractibility.
I work from home, so losing focus is a huge issue. I can’t even blame the kids or the dog because the kids are grown and we don’t have a dog, though my husband says if I ever leave him, he’s going to get two huge golden retrievers and name them after his first two girlfriends.
But I digress. See – I got sidetracked in the space of a paragraph!
There are endless options to divert my attention: call a friend, play computer solitaire, do the laundry, organize my office, talk to telephone solicitors, weed my garden, play golf. I wish I was a golfer so it could be a distraction!
However, it is possible to overcome distraction. Here are five techniques I use:
Have a plan. Each Monday I make a weekly to-do-list for work and home. Then each day, I make a daily prioritized list. Having a plan gives you a specific place to get restarted when you get distracted.
Build in breaks. When I worked in an office, those breaks were part of the schedule. At home, I can be more flexible. I build in exercise by going downstairs to refill my teacup, but those are quick diversions. I make sure to take ten-minute brain breaks every two hours and take longer breaks for lunch which are never eaten in the office.
When you think it, ink it. Those random thoughts or brilliant brainstorms can be very distracting. I jot them down on sticky notes. (Or use the task list on your computer or smart phone.) At the end of the day, I file them or add them on my to-do list.
Turn off your email alert. Those email alerts are HUGE distractions. Instead, check and respond to your email at scheduled times–first thing, before lunch, mid-afternoon, and end-of-day.
Limit non-work conversations. People who know you work from home assume you’re sitting around twiddling your thumbs. Tell non-work callers you have five minutes. If the issue demands more attention, call them back during non-work hours.
You can reduce distraction, but it requires effort. Consider an accountability group or partner. Knowing you have to report on your progress to someone else helps you focus on your tasks.
Don’t get discouraged. You can reduce distraction and get refocused.
ADDED FEATURE: Interested in a free worksheet to help you stay focused? Click here to download it.
Coming up next: Step 2 – Stop Disconnecting