Eliminate Negative Distractions
Lately, I’ve had an unusual number of conversations with people who are struggling with distractions, specifically those related to technology and media. Devoting a growing amount of time to such habits, they’re feeling less productive in their personal and professional lives. Have you, too, been increasingly wasting time due to a particular habit? If yes, then my guess is that it’s impacting your life, work and your ability to become a Disciplined Leader. And how is that making you feel? Be honest. If you’re not feeling genuinely good about it, then there’s a problem. So consider eliminating this activity to become more productive and feel better about your actions and behaviors. And don’t just minimize the time you’re spending on the activity. If it’s a serious issue, quit it for good. Why? Because, as a general rule, you’ll find you’re less vulnerable to it becoming a problem again.
When it comes to distractions, here are some of the common culprits:
Online distractions. In today’s world, you can’t disconnect from the Internet, but you can quit habits that don’t feed your purpose and support your goals. For example, I’ve got some friends who’ve gotten sucked into playing addictive games on their phones. They do it while eating, at work, at home and practically anywhere else they go. True, it may be “fun,” but this and other online activities (games, social media, texting, watching shows, surfing, etc.) become rabbit holes from which they can’t seem to return. They struggle to rejoin and engage with what truly brings purpose and value to their lives and work. In addition, many people getting sucked into these activities on their iPads or phones right before bed. Research shows the light from the screens alone trick the eyes into thinking it’s daytime. Consequently, more and more people are struggling to fall asleep in a timely manner, which leads to a whole host of issues come the next workday. Yet there’s a simple solution to this problem—call upon self-discipline to turn it all off.
“Harmful” habits. It could be smoking. It could be alcohol or drug use. It could be shopping or even eating out. Anything that’s done to an extreme degree is eventually going to tax your resources whether it’s money, health, energy, time, morale, self-esteem, etc. That’s when engaging in the habit starts to feel bad, guilt takes hold, and yet you may continue putting what’s vital about your job and personal life at risk. Over time, the habits can harm your body, mind and spirit. It can also hurt those around you, including those you lead. So ask yourself, what habits do you need to quit so you can sharpen your focus on what’s vital in life and at work?
Frivolous relationships, unproductive conversations. It’s incredible how much time we spend with people who bring no value to our lives or talking with others in a way that’s not meaningful or productive. Maybe you’re saying “yes” to social events when you really need to be devoting more time to vital aspects of your business. Or, perhaps with meetings at work, you’re in the habit of getting off-topic or talking more about people, less about problems (and solutions). These are all ways that we get caught up in what’s frivolous or unproductive in regard to our relationships and interactions with others. The key is to learn to set clear limits, say “no” more often, and build in good ground rules around steering clear of purposeless situations and conversations.
How have you come to better manage distractions at work that prevent you from focusing on what’s vital?