How do distractions serve us?
How do they not serve us?
What do they do most frequently?
Distractions can serve us by helping us break free from a stuck place. When you find you are unable to come up with the next thing to say or write, a distraction can move you out of that repetitive loop, and help you come back to your task from a fresh viewpoint.
They don’t serve us if we let them take us away from our task so long that it never gets completed – or feels like it’s not going to.
Many of us allow distractions to take us off task for too long.
Let me share part of my day today with you. I was up late last night, so let myself sleep in. After feeding the cat, and then playing with him for a few minutes, I wrote the personal note to go with this newsletter. I came up with the title for this article.
And then I let the distractions distract me.
I have checked Facebook and email more than once, and responded several times on both, creating fresh material for a couple of the emails.
We recently got back my husband’s DNA report from Ancestry.com and when I printed it the other day part of the material was missing. (One of the problems with material formatted for webpages is it doesn’t always transfer to pdf files well, and lines that overlap a couple of print pages just disappear – a reason to work with a print designer for your book.)
So I had to create a new Word file that contained all of the information, including clicking on a few of the links and combining material that was on the website but not all visible at the same time.
And I got hungry, so fixed some food and started the dishwasher.
We are almost out of clean clothes, so there were a few trips to the washer and dryer thrown in during the day.
Did distractions serve me well today? Not really. They gave me added material for my article, but it is hours later from the time I started it, and I’m still not done.
Has this happened to you?
You started the day with what you thought was a clear plan, but one or two distractions early in the day were enough to throw you off track.
This is especially easy to happen when your commitment is to yourself. In order to keep yourself and your projects high enough on your priority list, you almost always have to involve another person in the process. They don’t have to do any of the work. They just need to know that you have committed to do the work.
When you know you need to check with someone else at a specific time, or send them a rough draft of your next chapter, it is easier to turn your back on the distractions and get back to work.
You can also try posting a note in a place you can’t miss when you lift your eyes from the computer screen or keyboard that says: TODAY’S PRIORITY IS (fill in the blank). Use bold letters on a bright color note so it quickly grabs your eye.
As I mentioned at the beginning, a short distraction can serve you well when it helps you get past a brief block in your thinking.
When you allow the first distraction to start you down a never-ending yellow brick road of fascinating object followed by sweet smelling flowers followed by delicious food that never returns to your pad of paper or computer keyboard, then it is no longer serving you well.
Eventually, I pulled myself back to the task at hand, and this article came together fairly quickly. I reminded myself that my accountability partners – my editor and my VA (virtual assistant) – had set their deadlines that I needed to meet if this was going to be part of the intended newsletter.
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Need an accountability partner for your next project? Need help getting started writing or keeping on with it?
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