If my October was a busy month because of the Scotland trip, then my November has been a month full of distractions. Anything can be a distraction, whether it is something that gets in your way despite your best efforts to avoid it, something you let get in your way because it offers a welcome break, or even things you intentionally seek out to avoid doing work. Distractions can be things, people, or even whole projects which keep you from (Meaning: “prevent you from doing”) a specific task which is often more important than the chosen distraction, but not necessarily.

My November 2018 Distraction

November could and should have been a big month for blogging, but I really didn’t spend much time producing November posts due to a couple of key distractions.

First, I spent a lot of time in October experiencing Scotland, but I didn’t spend a lot of my time overseas blogging about those experiences. Once I got home, I had to catch up by finishing the posts I had started while in Scotland as well as those I had intended to write. That means that my blogging in November consisted of catching up on my October blog posts rather than working on any November blog posts. Unfortunately, the time I spent in November writing about October, left me little time to write anything for November.

Second was my biggest distraction – a major editorial project which dominated most of my time in November. This was definitely a serious distraction, but it is for a volunteer position so it was not technically work. But since it is a position I take very seriously, I willingly allowed it to dominate my time throughout November. Because it was a writing, editing, and layout project, when I did take breaks from it, blogging was not high on the list of things which seemed to qualify as a break.

Finally, as I have mentioned in my most recent Fit First post, I had dropped out of my fitness routine since returning from Scotland. This gave me an excuse to say that I didn’t have much to write about. However, there was still plenty that I was busy with. I wrote several articles which could have been (and still may be) adapted into a blog post. Even though I wasn’t cycling regularly, I could have written about the times I was cycling, or even how hard it was to get back into a routine.

Avoiding Distractions

There are techniques that you can use to eliminate or minimize distractions. But before you look at how to avoid distractions, you should also consider whether you really should eliminate distractions. The reason we seek distractions is to provide our brain and body with necessary breaks so we really shouldn’t look to eliminate distractions, rather we should seek to regulate our distractions to minimize their impact on our work.

Strategy 1: Goal Setting – There have been countless volumes written full of theories and techniques about goal setting. I myself have read several of them and at one time was required by an employer to use the Franklin-Covey system for goal setting and time management. There is little I could add to the existing theories of goal setting in a blog post of this length, so I won’t even try (although I will likely have a few posts in January about planning and goal setting).

The important takeaway on goal setting is that you need to set them and put them in writing. Only when you have written goals can you chart and plan a course towards their completion and be able to know whether you’re on track or whether your distractions are putting you behind schedule.  

Strategy 2: Scheduling – Not everyone uses a daily schedule where every hour of their day is assigned tasks, but anyone who keeps a calendar to remember upcoming dates understands the concept of creating a schedule to manage their time. But it takes a true master of time management to feel comfortable scheduling recreation and distractions. Why is this important? As long as you can stick to the schedule, a properly scheduled distraction won’t prevent you from getting your work done.

Your Takeaway

So how do you prevent distractions from getting in the way? Set goals. Create a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule to complete them. Then stick to the schedule. It’s that simple.