Just this morning I had 2 hours blocked out for writing. But you know that feeling when you just stare at your screen for an hour and end up totally loosing focus?
It happens a lot to newbies and experienced writers alike.
The difference is that experienced writers know how to get over it faster and regain focus effective immediately.
For me, the answer is giving myself a break, in this case, four episodes of “Money Heist” on Netflix. Finally, I’m back to work actually writing this email to you right now.
Part of being a Top Performer is existing in the real world. You and I don’t need a desk in a soundproofed zen meditation garden. We need a way to do work even when we’re distracted — because the world will always be distracting.
That’s why today I want to talk about three (3) of my most effective approaches for dealing with distraction.
Btw, this is about more than being exceptionally productive. It’s about developing the Mental Mastery to draw hard boundaries in your work so you get what you need done while leaving ample time to enjoy your personal life.
1. UNDERSTAND DISTRACTION IS HUMAN NATURE
When most people plan their day they say, “I am going to work straight from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with absolutely zero distractions and total focus.” They try to be crazy disciplined.
Then, as soon as they get a little distracted or they fall behind their perfectly planned schedule, their day goes completely off the rails. Next thing they know, they’re lurking their high school crush’s Facebook, texting their friend for a spontaneous coffee date, and checking movie show times for the early afternoon. They go into a downward spiral and can’t get back on track.
In psychology they call this the “what-the-hell effect.”
It’s just like when you go on a diet, things are going great, and then you slip up and eat a piece of cake, and say, “Well, there goes my diet for the day so what the hell, I might as well eat the rest of this cake and this pizza and this box of cookies.”
The difference is Top Performers understand that getting distracted is human nature. They accept it’s going to happen, and they don’t beat themselves up when it does.
2. BUILD IN A DISTRACTION BUFFER TO HELP WITH FOCUS
Once you accept that you’re going to get distracted, then you can plan for it. Something I’ve found really helpful is building a buffer into my day.
Instead of scheduling my day down to the minute and leaving no room for error, I make sure I leave a couple hours every Wednesday and Friday so that I can catch up when I do get off-track. (Not IF — WHEN. It will happen.)
3. INDULGE DISTRACTION, THEN FOCUS TWICE AS HARD
Here’s the last thing I do to deal with distraction and regain focus. I just let it happen! I indulge it!
This is what I did this morning when I couldn’t write. Instead of pushing through and forcing myself to write, I decided to take a break, indulge the distraction and actually go watch an episode.
But here’s the key. Once I indulged my distraction, I pulled the Google Doc back up on my computer, refocused, and worked EVEN HARDER the rest of the day to make up for it.
There’s something really powerful about being able to indulge in fun things that crop up — whether that’s a show, a friend, or an insanely beautiful day you just can’t pass up. And yet, after you’ve indulged, having the confidence to know you’ll buckle down and finish the work.
It’s like that metaphor of the tree and the reed. When a storm comes in, the tree fights it and snaps. But the reed bends with the wind and gets right back up after the storm.
So there you have it — 3 of my most brutally effective ways to deal with distraction.
Try them out yourself and tell me how it goes.