What did you set out to achieve yesterday? We can wake up each morning with a real focus on what’s most important in life and then find a tide of emails, text messages and voicemails have distracted us from what we really intended to do.
Shame on me, but sometimes a terrible temptation to quickly sit down to check my emails first thing can end up distracting me onto new tasks that I’d not planned on doing. And when I look up at the clock, I end up wondering where so much of the morning has gone?
If I just think about this morning, I got up bright and early only to have two calls before 7AM, one from Australia and another in the UK inviting me to a meeting discuss the challenges of cultural change in banks. At least I said no to the bank meeting as achieving cultural change in banks is a challenge almost on a par with parting the Red Sea.
In this 24/7 ‘always-on’ mobile phone social media world, it’s all too easy to get sucked into a black hole pattern where you seem to work non-stop all day, yet interruptions and distractions â€“ whether self-induced or created by others â€“ prevent you from achieving that action plan in your head.
It sounds simple, but start with writing your action plan down!
If you haven’t written your action plan down, even if only on a post-it note, chances are it is unlikely to get done. You don’t need to publish a multi-page plan in PDF. Putting pen to paper cements your intentions and confirms your priorities. If it’s on that post-it, it needs to get done; if it’s not, maybe it can wait.
We often want to achieve everything, and, especially in the world of business, there do not seem to be enough hours in the day. And you’d be right in thinking that: there aren’t enough hours in the day. Prioritisation, therefore, is key. And the humble Post-It is a great tool to help focus our attention.
Remember to pause
It may be, however, that you aren’t sure what to prioritise. So, take a brief pit-stop. Our day-to-day life isn’t all that dissimilar from Formula 1 cars looping round the track, but, unlike F1 racing drivers, we often forget to take time to refuel and make minor (or occasionally major) adjustments.
When we are overburdened, our minds are frazzled but there’s still work to be done, we don’t want to stop. Just a few more hours should do the trick, right? But we all know taking a rest will refresh us and will leave us better-equipped to take on the world when we return.
More often than not, we forget, choose not to, or feel guilty when we do take a pit-stop. Yet when we do, we afford ourselves the opportunity to take control over our distractions and re-focus our efforts and energies.
Refuel to refocus
Introducing a pit-stop isn’t just about refuelling in our daily lives. Is there something you don’t like about how your company’s latest deal is going? Or you’re not convinced about the direction in which the business is headed?
Take that pit-stop and listen to your intuitions. The pause gives you space to rest but also to reflect: time to think about those minor adjustments. Do you just need to clean the windshield, change a tyre, or make a larger repair?
Taking the time to prioritise, make an action plan, and write it down is vital to conquering distractions. Remembering to pause, slow down and make any necessary changes not only helps to conquer distractions, but it enables you to re-focus and pinpoint what your priorities are. So take a pit-stop and pull out a post-it: what do you need to get done today?