Distraction is, if not the biggest time challenge for most of us in 2014, certainly one of the top 5 or 10.
Between the information streaming at us via the internet (and the multiple devices we possess for delivering it) and the expectations of quick responses and almost 24-7 productivity, it’s no wonder that we often feel besieged, inundated, and pulled in multiple divergent directions all at once.
People, tasks, and nuggets of information clamor for our attention, each one offering what appears to be just a small distraction from whatever we were doing. In fact, though, each distraction steals far more time than we suspect, as our focus is diluted and momentum derailed.
Not too long ago I read an excellent blog post by Daphne Gray-Grant that zeroes in on the issue of distraction incisively and entertainingly. The post is titled “How to improve your focus” and in it Gray-Grant explores the intersection of overwhelm, worry, and distraction, noting that:
As a self-employed contractor, I remember being told many years ago that a two-minute break to answer a brief phone call should always count as a 15-minute interruption, because you were disrupted. Now, I learn, even the sound of your phone ringing is disruptive (the experts suggest you turn it off if you want to get your work done.)
Distraction, Multi-tasking, and Self-Sabotage
The more demands we have on our time the greater the temptation to attempt to ‘do it all.’ But this is, by definition, impossible and leads to paralysis at best. At worst, our efforts lead to mistakes, complications, and more lost time!
We can do one thing at a time. Period.
And the fact is that multi-tasking generally leads, not to doing MORE but actually LESS in most cases. Quite often multi-tasking is not a time management skill but an insidious and potent form of self-sabotage. At its base, can you see how it offers constant distractions that keep your wheels spinning and your focus fundamentally disengaged?
Distraction: Letting it Go
While the reasons we sabotage ourselves are unique to each of us, they share some common threads. One of them is to be found in the last word of my paragraph above. When we are distracted we are disengaged. We aren’t choosing anything, really. This gives the illusion of flexibility when, in fact, we are simply feeding feelings of overwhelm.
Ironically, the key to moving out of distraction (letting it go) is to take hold of something – to engage with it. And I mean engage with ONE thing, not many. This means making a choice and making a beginning on ONE of the tasks that is on your copious list of things to do
As soon as you engage with ONE task, you will feel the traction. It’s like gear wheels clicking into place. You begin to make progress, and as you do, overwhelm dissipates and your time horizon takes a clearer shape. Next steps emerge from the tangle of tasks, and you are moving again.
Do you see distraction playing a role in your feelings of overwhelm? And has this post led you to reconsider the usefulness of multi-tasking? I hope so – and if you’d like more thought-provoking time tips (with practical action steps) sign up for my FREE Finding Time Success Kit in the sidebar.
Here’s to your time success!