What Shiny Objects Are Distracting You Today?

Published on April 20, 2011 by Anne Raymond

It is so easy to get distracted these days! We are bombarded with advertisement, email, information, ideas, and requests all the time. It's sometimes impossible to get away from it all.

So when a "shiny-object" appears, our time and attention is drawn away and amused for a moment (or sometime hours at a time). We don't even realize we are being sucked in until we've wasted one of our most precious resources - our time!

Does this ever happen to you??

You know you should be writing a presentation but instead that on-line store is calling your name to order a gift for your friend's new baby. You know you should be focused on where you're evolving but it's hard to think straight with people whizzing through your office like a revolving door. You know you should be seeing what you can systemize so you can simplify, automate, and delegate more things but instead you reply to a few easy emails so you can strike one thing off your growing to-do list and feel SOME sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. We've all been there!

If you want to think bigger, provide more value, and have greater impact, you'll need to tame the shiny-objects that are coming at you! You know you are getting distracted when you can't focus on what you need to get done, you procrastinate, you do the easy stuff, or you don't get the right information or people lined up to achieve success. You can waste a lot of time spinning, daydreaming, and doing "tiny tasks" before doing the biggest priority that will have the biggest impact!

Let's break down the shiny objects into two separate parts:

1) INTERUPTIONS: the external world interrupts you from what you are doing like email alerts (or anything on-line!!!), phone calls, meetings, a noisy environment, or people lined-up to see you.

2) DISTRACTIONS: the internal world or more simply put "YOUR SELF". This could include your mindset or inner game but also how you set up your physical environment, your systems, your energy, and your level of interest/passion for what you're doing.

Here are 5 ways to tame those shiny objects, get more focused and get stuff done:

1. Be Committed To Your Priorities! If you're aren't committed to the task at hand then you might as throw in the towel. You need to be clear on what you're doing and why you're doing it and how it is connected to the bigger picture (the vision!). If you're not committed up front, you'll be spinning your wheels on getting engaged with the project! Know What, Why, and How and the Results that you want.

If not, then it's time to delegate or outsource, or evolve what you're doing so your heart is in the game too! This is absolutely key to getting into the "zone"!

2. Carve Out Time and Get Unplugged! If you want to get something important done, then you need to carve out a chunk of time to get it done. For big thinking projects or planning you need concentrated time (see how I didn't say multi-tasking!) without interruptions or distractions. Turn off your email, turn off the ringers on your phones, unplug your internet connection, and completely disengage with the outside world. This will support you by NOT getting interrupted by others and limiting your exposure to web-surfing for that latest gadget.

3. Set Up a Motivating Environment. Find a place where you can do the kind of work that you want to do. For instance, you may have an office that you do your "busy" work in like responding to emails, making phone calls, etc but when it comes to bigger thinking work, perhaps you need to do it another place – like a coffee shop, your living room, or a conference room at your office. Different thinking sometimes requires a different environment. Also, this doesn't preclude that you may do your best work with someone else – so pick someone that you can bounce ideas of and work through the framework or presentation with them in an environment that makes sense. Use people, places, physical things, and mindset to set up the environment where you can stay on focus and get what you need to get done.

4. Set Up A System. If you do some work that has similar recurring activities, why not set up a system for getting it done faster. For instance, if you are doing a presentation, writing an email, or writing an article, create a template that you can follow each time that you do it so that you can get more done in less time. For example, whenever I write an article, I use an outline that asks specific questions that I just fill in, and a method (it's a Q&A writing method) that makes it easier to get it done. Once you've created a method or framework or system, it's much easier to apply it to new projects and to automate as much as possible. No point in recreating the wheel every time.

5. Take a break! Yes, you heard right! If you want to remain at your peak performance, you need to let your body recoup and taking a break can be a great reward. Working harder and longer isn't going to get your best performance. Sometimes logical brain work can use a physical break or doing something creative like drawing or doodling will inspire your creativity in another project. Like Michael Gelb discusses in the creative process, you rarely get a genius idea when you are engaged in the work – more likely your brain will find the "magic" bullet when you're in the shower, out for a walk, or grabbing a drink around the water cooler.

Next time those "shiny objects" are distracting you from what you need to get done, then take a look at these 5 things to see if you can boost your focus and your productivity. Or better yet, build your environment to remove those shiny objects today! Try it out.