I have been speaking with many people over the last several weeks that work to avoid distractions by avoiding social media entirely. While I agree that social media can create a black hole that sucks away countless hours, it doesn’t need to be that way. How do we minimize distractions without sacrificing important tools that can benefit our businesses?
Shiny Object Syndrome
One of our members on the Ask A Bookkeeper Facebook Group asked: How do people handle “bright shiny object” syndrome and time sucks?
My answer: Turn our work into the bright, shiny object!
If we see the things we “should” be doing as drudgery, is it any wonder that our minds go looking for something, anything, else to do? Theoretically, if you are a business owner, you have chosen to do something that you LOVE. If you are finding yourself frequently distracted here are some important questions to ask yourself:
- Have you lost sight of the parts of your work that you adore?
- Are you working with the clients and projects that inspire you?
- Are the distractions trying to tell you something?
- Do you need to set shorter work periods and plan breaks to allow your mind to reset?
Follow the White Rabbit
Getting distracted by email or social media instead of doing what we “should” be doing happens to most of us on occasion. When it happens to me, I simply try to make the most of it!
Take this article, for example. This article stemmed out of an email that I received spontaneously from a colleague last week. I replied to her right away, because I was inspired to do so. That inspiration turned into last week’s BWAM article on Invitation: Reaching Out and Putting Yourself Out There. It also inspired me to begin this article.
Following that inspiration in the moment saved me HOURS of time later on. I would have needed to spend time to entirely recall the ideas later, and they might not have been as good without that fire of inspiration to fuel me. By allowing the distractions in that moment to draw me off course, I was actually MORE productive than I would have been if I had tried to force myself to remain focused on the intended task that I had in mind for that work period.
Finding the Flow
It is important to complete our objectives, plan our time, and follow through on commitments. It is also important for us to balance our plan with the spontaneous opportunities that arise. I find myself doing instant cost-benefit assessments in my mind all day long to determine whether my prior intentions for my time continue to the the core priority.
People often tell me that I am very creative, as if I am more creative than the average person/accountant/professional. I don’t believe that I’m any more creative than the next person. I simply allow myself to follow my inspiration in a moment. Distractions offer me an opportunity to reset my productive mind.
It basically comes down to how open we are to change. If we fear change, we are locking down our potential. Distractions are an opportunity for change. In his book, “The E-Myth Accountant,” Michael Gerber says, “If you are fearful, you see difficulties in every opportunity. If you are fear-free, you see opportunities in every difficulty.”
I feel the current in every moment, and I embrace change. I still manage to get things done despite the distractions. In fact, I complete the things I intended to accomplish, and I also achieve unexpected results because I harness unanticipated opportunities in the moment of their highest energetic potential.
Tripping Over Gems
I don’t want you to think that I’m encouraging you to throw your focused work-ethic to the wind. Quite the contrary. It is a good idea to have a plan, lest we make our business decisions completely while flying by the seat of our pants. I try to choose my distractions with intention. That is one of the reasons why I do not have a text notification enabled on my phone, as text is an unwelcome interruption for me. If social media and email are not activities that you enjoy, by all means, keep doing what you love. At the same time, find the distractions that energize you.
We do so much to minimize distractions, and that makes sense for the distractions that cause us frustration or distress. If there is a distraction that perks you up, perhaps there can be a way to give yourself an allowance of time to re-fill your energetic cup. By being too strict with our time, sometimes we miss some gems. It’s those shiny, miraculous moments that we did not expect that add color and flavor to our lives. Embrace them when the opportunity arises, and you may find yourself with deep reserves of energy for pursuing the rest of your work.
Doorways from Distractions
I have decided that Facebook is a doorway. You know how when you go through a door you sometimes need to ask your self, “Now, why did I come into this room?” That’s what Facebook does to me.
I may have a perfectly legitimate, business reason for hopping on. Perhaps I needed to grab a link that I know I saw somewhere. Maybe I need to post an article or video on a group I manage. 15 minutes later I’m trying to recall what it was I was looking for in the first place.
Strangely, those 15 minute chunks often have the most amazing outcomes in relationship building, creative content, and job satisfaction. Damn, I love being self-employed!
Down the Rabbit Hole
Next time you are forcing yourself to completely avoid distractions, I challenge you to try another tactic. When the distraction hits, set an alarm for 15 minutes, and allow yourself to follow it. Set the intention to find at least one gem of inspiration. Find a new learning opportunity, make a connection, or dip into your energy reserves. Then return to your previous task. You might be surprised how much more quickly you get it done!