We all do it. Get started on something and then something fun and shiny distracts us and takes us in another direction. I am the worst at this when doing housework. I pick something up, take it to where it should be in the house, then realise there is something that needs cleaning in that room and then eventually get back to where I was when I picked up that original object!
In your creative practice and in your business, distractions can be the thing that give you excuses as deadlines loom and you still haven't checked that job off the list!
These are my top 5 distractions and how I try to break bad habits or educate those around me to help me work towards my goals instead of distracting me from them!
1. SOCIAL MEDIA
When sitting at my desk, I have my mobile phone beside me and two screens open in front of me as I work. One of the most distracting things is leaving my Facebook page open on my desktop or an Instagram notification on my phone. I always want to take a look and take the time to interact with people who are engaging in my business.
BUT... they can wait and they will still follow what you do!
I check in on social media at the beginning of the day, and then when I schedule time for marketing and to be honest - after I finish work for the day (not such a great habit - but let's face it - we all do it). I turn my phone on silent so I don't hear the notifications but it vibrates when a call is coming in. I close any screens not related to the project I have prioritised for that part of the day. Otherwise, social media just sucks you back into its vortex.
2. VISITORS KNOCKING ON THE DOOR & PERSONAL PHONE CALLS
How many of you work from home? I do, and I run 3 businesses whilst my husband works from home upstairs and I have 2 school-age children. It is a balancing act and one that gets fairly regularly interrupted by those I hold dear that don't work and forget that time at home during the week is work time!
It feels brutal - but be honest. I have a note on my office door for when I cannot be disturbed whilst in a meeting or hosting a webinar so people don't interrupt. People pretty much have to be needing an ambulance for me to open that door and let them in. Although I do let my husband through the door when he offers to make a cup of tea!
I also don't answer personal calls when I am in work mode - the benefit of caller ID on our phones right? I wait until I take a break or after work to return these calls. It takes discipline, but when you explain - people learn and understand.
I don't know about you, but I really hate having emails in my inbox. I get total satisfaction when I clear that inbox and have replied to everyone! Not always the most practical way to prioritise time that's for sure.
I have now started creating folders in my emails for follow up. This takes it out of my inbox and into a folder to be followed up on after a certain task is achieved. This really works for me.
I cannot concentrate as well when there is clutter around me. I am by no means the cleanest and most organised person, but clutter means something hasn't been done that needs to be done. It is a huge distraction for me.
The way I deal with this is to set aside a certain day of the week to do the full house clean so I start the week organised. Everyone in the household knows that their jobs need to be done by then or Mum gets cranky about being disorganised! :)
Until recently, I also did not have a formal studio space. I would waste time finding the materials and tools I needed before I could even start. Now I have a spot for everything and it is awesome!
5. THE NEXT BIG IDEA
I mentioned shiny things earlier. As creatives, we are always coming up with a new idea and we don't always have the patience to push it down the priority list.
As I write this I realise I need to have a "Shiny Things" list on my desktop so I can write the idea down, get it out of my head and realistically look at when that thing needs to be followed up. I do this in my head but I am big believer in writing it down and creating lists! So I give myself permission to write it down and then schedule time in my diary for delving into it a bit deeper.
So think about what distracts you and try to figure out some strategies to reduce their impact on your working time.