This is how procrastination happens: I’m in the middle of writing an Important Document (emphasis on Important) when I hear a song on my internet radio that reminds me of a song that I heard 10 years ago by an Australian band at a small music festival in Colorado. Random, I know…
At which point I think… “I wonder if that band is still around?” I then completely drop what I’m writing and Google the band to learn that they broke up in 2005 and the lead band members don’t seem to be doing anything at all anymore which makes me sad and reminiscent of when I saw them in 2001 and how long ago that was (and how old I’m getting) and completely forgetful that I am TRYING TO GET SOMETHING DONE. This goes on for at least 10 minutes until I write this post.
And this, my friends, is why procrastination cannot be beat. 🙂
How can we deal with interruptions and random thoughts in a way that allows us to be spontaneous, yet still stay focused and achieve our goals?
There are several steps we can take to help us in situations like these. Here are three examples that I recommend to my clients:
1. Turn off distractions
- Closing the door (which signals to others that you don’t want to be disturbed)
- Turning off your phone’s ringer
- Turning off notifications (on your phone and computer) from email, Facebook, etc.
When we hear the phone ring or see an email or Facebook notification pop up, we act like moths drawn to a light: we just can’t resist answering the call. Turning off these notifications, therefore, can help keep us focused.
2. Use a Timer
One of the techniques I coach in my Productivity Powerprogram uses a timer to help set a tone of urgency and focus. The idea with this technique is that when you permit yourself to only work for the time on the timer before forcing yourself to stop and do something else, then you know you have to stay focused. The length of your timer depends on your ability to work and remain focused. Starting out, you’ll want to use a shorter timer. For example, the Pomodoro method uses a twenty five minute timer. As you gain experience, you can lengthen the timer to allow longer blocks of creative focus.
If you’re using a twenty five minute timer, for example, and you spend ten minutes chasing a distraction, you’ve lost 40% of your work time! Who can afford to do that?
By the way, you don’t have to buy a fancy tomato-shaped timer; the timer built into your phone works great for this purpose! It’s what I use.
3. Capture Distractions to be Dealt With Later
Evernote has many ways to capture data. Here is a preview of my Control the Chaos class, which shows one very simple method for capturing ideas using Evernote on a Mac:
Bringing Order From Chaos
In addition, my new Control the Chaos course teaches how to set up and start using Evernote to sift through that chaos and get it into order.
What techniques do you use to remain focused and bring order to chaos? Please post them below.
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