Tuesday, April 7, 2015

#Day7: Distracted

Lately I have found myself to be distracted. Regularly and truly distracted. This distraction has hindered my ability to gain traction on the things I want to accomplish. And then I’m unsatisfied with my progress (or lack-there-of). And then I find my mind drifting to “all the things I should be doing” when what I really should be doing is paying attention to what is going on in the moment. I’m aware of this distraction and I’ve allowed my attention to be split when it shouldn’t be (like in a meeting or when a colleague pops in my office). I think to myself, “If I just do this one thing right now, then I’ll be able to pay attention.” But that isn’t really true.  

I don’t like being distracted. I don’t like how the distraction exacerbates the feeling that, because I’m not focusing on people and projects in the best way that I can, I am failing. It’s time to get off the distracted and failing track. Here’s what I’m thinking…

How I Want To Be
For me, being thoughtful about what I want to do and recognizing how it connects to the “bigger picture” (like the goals and mission of LeaderShape and the goals of my life beyond work) always energizes me. Once I have (re-)established that connection, organizing my work also brings about an enormous amount of satisfaction and focus. So how do I want to be right now? I want to be connected, clear-minded, and ready to take meaningful action.

How I’ll Get There
One of the reasons my mind is all over the place right now is because I haven’t spent time thinking. To think, I need to slow down for a minute but how can I do that when I am distracted by all of the things that I should be doing right now?? Do you see what happens there? So I am taking time to think, pushing the urge to “just do something” away.

You might be like me and love a good list.  I love a good list so much that sometimes I jump right into making one without – you guessed it – thinking. After my thinking time, then I get my list-making time. Until then, I put down the pen (right after this blog post J).  Think, then write.

As much as I love a list, it isn’t worth the paper it is written on if it isn’t organized in a manner that sets priorities, next steps, etc. I’m going back to some of David Allen’s Getting Things Done techniques that have worked for me in the past. My copy of Allen’s book is sitting on my desk and ready for review. I’m feeling good about this as a first step to organizing my work and goals. (But not before I spend time thinking!)

Let It Go
Oh, Elsa, how your famous three words are burned in my brain. But you know what? There are some things that I can let go. There are the tangible things, the “to-dos” that I can let go of until later. This will allow space for higher priority goals.

Then there is the mental mess that comes from criticizing myself for not having the level of focus that I want, need, think I should have, etc., etc., etc. By letting that go, I also let go of another distraction. I’m already feeling relief as some of the distraction lets go of me as I write this post.

#Day7 means a lot of things to a lot of people and it can change over time. It is about keeping the lessons of LeaderShape alive, staying in action, continuing to grow into the person you want to be, embracing possibility, living with integrity, working to create a just, caring, and thriving world, and more. Currently my #Day7 is about staying in action to do good work. To do this, what I need right now is to lessen the distractions and incorporate ways in which I can actually get to the good work.

What about you? Do you ever find yourself caught up in being distracted? What does #Day7 look like for you right now? Tell us in the comments section. 


josh edgar said...


I love this post as I too have found myself constantly distracted. Some days I find myself closing a window screen (Facebook, gmail, Star Tribune, etc.) and reopening it immediately because I'm postponing my work.

Three actions I've been trying to overcome this distraction:
1. To do lists (this helps)
2. Schedule time to write or think - especially time to write 3 things I'm grateful for each day which brings purpose and meaning back in focu
3. Meez (Plan Your Day) similar to prepare to cook in the kitchen

The final action came from a HBR artile: https://hbr.org/2014/06/how-to-spend-the-first-10-minutes-of-your-day which

Thanks for the great post!

Kristen H said...


Thanks for sharing your thoughts and what you have done to overcome distraction. I especially like how the 3 things you are grateful for provide purpose and focus.

I can't wait to check out the article you posted.

Be well,