Take One Distraction at a Time
You have your list of the things you put up with, that distract you and divert your attention and rob you of time. (If you didn’t read the first post about distractions, you can read it here, and download the worksheet, What’s Bugging You, to use as you eliminate one distraction at a time.)
Did you notice a pattern on your list? Are you more inclined to be distracted by things, events, other people, or yourself? Is there one big thing, or a lot of little things of one type of distraction that, if eliminated, would free up the most time for you? You’ll benefit most by taking care of that (or those) first.
Step 2: Strategize
The next step in the process is to decide what you want instead of what you’re putting up with. Then to choose the strategy you’re going to use to eliminate or change it.
We use the D3 Rule to eliminate distractions: Do it, Delegate it, or Dump it! Sounds easy enough, sure, but it can be a challenge, especially when it comes to other people’s behavior. And each type of distraction requires its own strategy. Distractions regarding things and people each require a different approach, so let’s take them one at a time.
Things are usually the easiest type of distraction to eliminate. It can often be ‘fixed’ with either a repair or replacement (Do it). And that can be done by you or someone else (Delegate it).
The stacks of newspaper in the garage just need to go to recycle. Your desk just needs to be organized. Change the light bulb, and the distraction and energy drain disappears.
The broken tile in the foyer, though, is going to require replacing the whole floor and you’re just not ready to invest in that. Instead, you accept that the time isn’t right for the repair, decide you’ll put it on the list for a future date, and move on (Dump it).
When I say Dump it, that means you let go of any energy drain you’re experiencing whenever you see the broken tile. Accepting that it’s not going to be fixed or resolved right away, and you’ve chosen that path, means you can let it go and not be distracted by it anymore.
If on the other hand, you find the broken tile still has a hold on you, you haven’t dumped it, and you’ll need to go back and decide how you’re going to handle it.
Dumping means letting go; that there’s no energy loss or distraction for you around that item. And this holds true no matter what type of distraction you’re eliminating.
We all get caught automatically saying yes when invited to events, both business and personal. Often we’d have preferred to say no.
I had a client, Betsy, who sat on the Board of Directors for her local Chamber of Commerce. She dreaded the meetings every month and not only lost the time for travel to and from the meetings, plus the meeting time, she also lost time because for two days her attention was focused on having to go to a meeting she hated. Betsy couldn’t get anything else done.
Her choice was to step down from the Board (Dump it). It allowed her to reclaim 16 hours of her time every month and she no longer had the associated drain on her. She regained her time, and the bonus was her sense of humor and purpose returned.
That’s not such an extreme example. It happens more often than you can imagine.
Do you have business events you’ve accepted invitations to but dread having to attend? Often there are other people you could ask to go in your place (Delegate it). Your business will still have a presence at the event; it just doesn’t have to be you.
If you find it’s something you just have to attend, and you can’t delegate, the strategy is to create a “game plan” for yourself for how you can attend the event without losing energy. (Do it) You might plan on staying for only a specific amount of time. Or maybe only long enough to meet one or two new people. Who knows, you might find you’re enjoying yourself and stay for the entire event.
If dumping it is your chosen option, contact the sponsor of the event and have your name removed from the list of expected attendees. No explanations are needed, and you don’t have to justify yourself. You simply find you just won’t be able to make the event.
Ideally, of course, you learn not to accept invitations too quickly. Practice giving yourself time to consider whether it’s something you really want to do before you commit. A simple, “Let me get back to you on that,” goes a long way.
The next post will deal with other people, one of the greatest challenges when eliminating tolerations and distractions.