9 Distractions That Are Killing Your ProductivityNov 22, 2021
If I asked you to list all the distractions that are killing your productivity, you would find it horrifying because you are distracted way more than you think. Many distractions are happening behind the scenes without you being aware of them.
Here are nine distractions you deal with every day, along with some ideas on coping with each.
Distraction number one: Email.
Email is not going anywhere. I always ask people who think it is, How do you log into Facebook? Or YouTube? Or Instagram? With an email address! You need to control email instead of letting email be in control of you. Unless your job is to be in email, I encourage you to schedule time to be in your email. And when it's not time, shut it down. Don't leave the tab open or keep the program running.
Distraction number two: DMs and texts.
How often have you been working on a project, but you keep seeing the notifications pop up on the screen? Unless you have to be, you need to shut these services down whenever you can. Most times, I find myself interrupted by text messages from family and friends. If you can't turn these off, at least consider turning off the sound. Or have them scheduled to be delivered, if possible. You can schedule when messages get through on the new iOS 15 (iPhone).
Distraction number three: social media.
Are you using social media, or is social media using you? If you endlessly scroll on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you are being used by social media. Many of the most successful people I have studied use social media, which means they don't mindlessly scroll through it. They post, and they leave. What are you doing with social media? Is social media a distraction to you? Or is social media a benefit? Is spending 15, 30, or 60 minutes on social media moving the needle towards your goals? Or is it a waste of time?
Distraction number four: ambient noise.
Have you ever heard any productivity expert talk about ambient noise? What do you hear as you work on your project, make sales calls, write your book, or create a video? Do you hear your neighbor's dog barking? Or your neighbor's cat meowing? Do you hear the FedEx driver driving by? All this ambient noise, whether you realize it or not, affects your productivity because your brain is going, What's that? The next time you're working on a project, be half aware of the noise that's going on around you. Do what you can to block out that noise. Maybe you wear noise-canceling headphones, listen to instrumental music, or have a noise blocker.
Distraction number five: technology.
You're reading this post on some device that gets the Internet. Technology can be a blessing, and it can also be a curse. Technology can help you achieve your goals or be a distraction, keeping you from getting things done. I already mentioned social media, where you endless scroll on TikTok, YouTube, or your favorite social media platform. Remember: you need to be the person in control of the technology.
When people tell me they can't control their technology, I ask them to turn their device off and see how much control it has over them. Your technology can prevent you from being productive.
Distraction number six: people.
Let's get real here. I'm talking mainly about family and friends. Earlier, I spoke about DMs and text messages. Most people who are going to text and DM you will be family and friends. If you are in a corporate environment, you'll get those people DMing you on your inter-office IM. And probably, the people that are bothering you the most are people who probably are not competent in their job. They ping you to get answers to questions they should already know the answer to. If you've got Mary or Bobby always bothering you with a DM or your mom's constantly texting you, this is something you have to get a handle on.
How? You can block them, but I don't think that will solve the problem. It would be best if you had a conversation with them. This could be in-person or on FaceTime. It would help if you said, "Hey, listen. Would you please stop texting me all these GIFs, videos, these articles? I'm trying to get stuff done, and these <whatever they are sending you> is distracting." They're probably not even aware of the issue it is causing you. They're probably thinking they're helping you or serving you somehow.
Distraction number seven: lack of planning.
If you don't tell your time where to go, you'll wonder where it went. You're going to be scattered. Being scattered means your plan is, whatever happens, happen. And when you do this, you're operating in reactive mode. It's a distraction when you are in reactive mode instead of proactive mode because you're not getting things done. Make sure you sit down and plan your next day the night before or the morning of. What do you need to get done the next day?
Distraction number eight: you're doing too much.
Your schedule is crammed with more things that you can humanly possibly get done during the day. Yes, doing too much can be a distraction if you are not doing those needle-moving activities. What is needle-moving for you? Are what you're doing moving you toward your goals? Or are they just you being busy?
You can be busy being productive, and you can be busy being busy; these are not the same things. As you plan, consider what you're putting on your calendar. Are they things that need to be done? But do those things need to be done by you? Maybe you can outsource, delegate or automate them. You need to be working on needle-moving activities that you need to work on.
Distraction number nine: clutter.
Now there are two types of clutter. The first is physical. Is your desk or work area neat and organized, or is it a mess? Ensure that the only things in front of you when you're working are things you need. If you spend a lot of time in your car, is your car a mess? Or is your car clean?
Then there's mental clutter. Do you have a lot of stress or worry? You have to deal with the mental clutter because mental clutter will also prevent you from being the most productive version of yourself.
A homework assignment for you.
I want you to pick one hour during a regular day, and I want you to write it down every time you're distracted. You probably won't make it to an hour before you'll get so horrified after 15 minutes. The point of this exercise is to teach you that you are more distracted than you can understand.
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