How To Manage Internal And External Distractions

Time Management

How To Manage Internal And External Distractions

In the 60 minutes I’ve spent writing this article I’ve:

  • Checked Facebook 2 times
  • Gone outside to take pictures of the snow falling
  • Made a snack
  • Remembered to send a quick email
  • Started 1 other blog post
  • Made another snack

Allow me to state the obvious:

Blocking distractions is not easy.

I talk a lot about the importance of protecting time each day for you to focus on your key priorities.

Whether that is writing a blog post, drafting a report, or calling your prospects it is critical to schedule this work so that you know it will get done.

A huge part of managing your time effectively is learning how to protect your time to actually do the work on your to-do list. For additional information check this out.

Once the concept of time protection becomes clear the next obvious question is:

How the heck do you do this?

Below I’ve listed a number of specific strategies for blocking distractions – both internal and external – that you can employ starting today to keep you focused on your tasks.

External Distractions

Turn off all communication channels: This means your email, phone, instant messenger, all of that gobblygook in front of your face all the time. Check out the Anti-Social app to make this easier.

Shut the door: Even if this runs against your company culture it is most often necessary to communicate in some fashion that you are not to be disturbed. Here are 3 options:

  • Shutting your door (putting on sign out when you will be available again)
  • Putting on headphones (works great in a cubical)
  • Change your location – go to the conference room, coffee shop, etc.

Block time on your calendar: This sends a powerful message to yourself and to others that this is protected time. Keep it sacred.

Internal Distractions

Set up a parking lot: Keep a notebook or sticky note by you to capture any thought or idea that runs through your mind that is tempting you to drop everything and spend the next hour on YouTube.

Play music: For some, having background noise or music can be help you focus. Try out these brain-focusing beats here.

Set a timer: Whether for 2 minutes or 2 hours, timers can really help you focus. I love these visual timers found here.

Have To vs. Want To Game: Set a timer for 15 minutes and focus on what you have to do. When the timer dings reward yourself with 15 minutes of something you want to do. Switch back and forth until you work through your list.

People pleasers listen up:

Does the idea of shutting people out make you uncomfortable? You are not alone.

I encourage you to start small. Protecting your time is a muscle you can build the more you exercise it.

When you see that the world doesn’t collapse around you when you put yourself first the process becomes easier.

Empower people to find their own answers. It isn’t as necessary as you think to be as available as you are.

You can’t own your time and accomplish what you desire if you are waiting for everyone else to give you permission. You have to create that space for yourself.

So how do you block distractions and get down to work? Let others benefit from your tips by sharing below.

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