COPING WITH DISTRACTIONS

Distractions are so distracting. Here are a few ideas to help you cope:

1) The first trick for dealing with them is to be sure you’re not causing your own distractions: You check your email, Twitter or Facebook account, or make a quick phone call when you had started out to work on a big project, like writing a novel. And then, every so often you do the checking again. This kills your focus, and it will take some time to get back into the “groove.”

You’re doing something you have as a top priority on your to-do list, but it’s boring. So, you distract yourself by, you guessed it, checking email, Facebook, or Twitter. Making a phone call. Playing just one game of solitaire.

2) You allow others to distract you because you don’t have firm rules and signals to let them know you are working and should not be disturbed until you come up for air. This goes for family members if you work at home, and for co-workers at the office. Close a door if you have one, or put up a do not disturb sign if you need to. Be sure to take regular breaks where you are accessible, especially for children.

3)Try checking in with yourself about your habits. Have you made enough things you need to do every day a habit? Think about the habit of brushing your teeth. You don’t even say to yourself, now I’m going to brush my teeth because you do it along with other small grooming habits, every day. You probably do it at the same time every day. You probably, way back when, did have to think about it every time for several weeks before it became a habit. Make as many things you do most or every day habits. This saves mental energy, so you will get more done before being tired.

3) Perfectionism can be a distraction. First of all, it’s practically impossible to get everything you do perfect. You must decide while working on a project: when does it become “good enough?” After that, aiming for perfection is a huge distraction. You’re better off starting on something new instead.

Bottom line: When you get ready to tackle the most important jobs each day, close the door, turn off your phone, shut down your internet connection, and forget about perfectionism. Make all that a habit, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish every day.

AUTOPILOT REVISITED

He’s back:

Remember my post about developing habits to help you get through your days quicker and easier? http://www.janchristensen.com/is-habit-destiny/

Well, here are a few more thoughts about fine-tuning your schedule.

1.     Have a routine for checking your notes, calendar and to-do lists every day.

2.     For major projects, don’t list on your to-do list more than three to five actions related to the ones you’re going to tackle that day.

3.     Prioritize your goals on your list, not just in your head.

4.     Take items off your lists that are no longer necessary or desired, even if you haven’t finished them. It’s surprising how many of us leave things on there that no longer interest us or that we haven’t a prayer of accomplishing. They just clutter lists up and can make you feel discouraged.

Realize that you cannot always, get everything done that’s on your to-do list every day. Hardly anyone ever does. This will eliminate a lot of stress.

And finally, effective time management uses the great in-and-out system;

Try not to take on a new task before an old one is finished.

This works on so many levels—Before bringing in a new food product, new clothing, new decorations, new project, new anything, get rid of something else. You whole life will be less cluttered.

And your time will be more easily managed.

TO DO LISTS

Everyone knows it’s a great idea to keep a to do list. And many think that’s it. You just list everything you have to, need to, want to do, and cross off each item as you accomplish it.

And basically, that’s true. So, if you’re doing this and still not getting things done, what’s wrong?

There are a few hints about using a list you should know.

First, only use one list and one system. Do not have pieces of your list scattered all over on notepads, sticky notes, napkins and on the back of other people’s business cards. Carry a notebook with you and “capture” stray thoughts about what you want to add to your list. Then add those items to the list when you next look at it. You have to have everything listed so you can prioritize what needs to be done.

Next, it doesn’t have to be an actual list. One nifty way to handle your to-dos is to use index cards. They are handy because they can fit into a small space like pocket or purse, and they are more durable than paper. I have just recently come to this system because I have many recurring to-dos each day.

  1. I have a card all made up of routine tasks for each day of the week.
  2. And I have two other cards made up for things I want to do every day. One for work (writing) and one for household.
  3. Then I have a card where I list occasional things, like getting the tax stuff ready for the tax man, making a dental appointment, fun things like that. Those things I cross off as I do them. When the card is too full to add anything more, I transfer the undone things to another card and keep going.

All the other cards have the things I need to do daily in a semblance of the order I hope to do them in. So, I don’t cross off anything. I just look at them every so often to see how I’m doing.

If your routine isn’t so structured, then having a running to do list is probably the way to go. Just remember to keep it all on one list and look at it often during the day.

Using a to do list is the most basic and probably the most powerful thing, along with a calendar, you can use to organize your life. Do you have a to do list?