When my coaching clients tell me they didn’t have time to complete an assignment I tell them of course they did. They simply chose other priorities. And that’s okay if they own the choice. The other priorities they chose may have been extremely important. But it’s not okay if they say they have no control over which demands on their time they pursue. Of course they have choice. We all do.
We can choose to
- say yes to requests
- check Facebook
- read the news
- make a sales call
- read a book
- find a new hobby
- keep in touch with friends and family
We have all kinds of choices. One of which is to reject the vast majority of things that make us so busy in the first place.
As this NY Times article explains “busy” has become a badge of honor. It fills us with a sense of self worth so that we pursue it, no matter how much that busyness takes away from our freedom, fulfillment, and happiness.
A lot of people are masters of avoidance. Facebook, hanging out in the coffee room, TV, and long lunches are all so much more enticing than the call you’re dreading, the expense report you don’t feel like finishing, or the pile of dishes in the sink.
Sometimes we all need a break. But sometimes the break can distract us for too long and become the norm. When we are driven to distraction too often or for too long we need to redirect our energy and attention. But how?
Here are a few simple ideas to shape your actions back to what needs to be done.
- Give the distraction as a reward. Only allow yourself to check Facebook or go to lunch after you’ve finished your toughest and most important task of the day.
- Time limit your distractions. Allow yourself 10 minutes or 2 hours or whatever the right time is. But keep track. Once you hit your limit for the day, you’re done until tomorrow.
- Time block your tasks. Put appointments on your calendar for you to do your important tasks (easy), and then actually keep those appointments (hard).
And if these don’t work, call in the reinforcements. Ask others to hold you to your commitments. What you can’t do for yourself, you might be able to do when someone else is watching.
After a six week hiatus from writing I blogged yesterday. To those who expressed appreciation on my return and those who expressed concern during my absence, thank you.
It is noteworthy what you did. Not just because it made me feel good, but because it is a lost art. We live in an information overload era. Being constantly bombarded and stimulated we have minimal down time for ourselves. As a result we are getting worse and worse at observing others.
While we are better able to learn more about other people – catching updates of friends on Facebook, profiling strangers on LinkedIn or eHarmony – we are less well equipped to notice subtle changes in them, like shifts in tone or absences.
So I think it is noteworthy that some of you reached out to me yesterday and over the past six weeks. Let me assure everyone, I’m okay. More importantly, who else in your world has changed or shifted recently without your notice. Making that observation makes a powerful statement to them that you are aware and you care.
- Phishing: [email] Good Day To You My Friend. It is understandable that you might be a little bit apprehensive because you do not know me but I have a lucrative business proposal of mutual interest to share with you . . .
- Identity Theft: Do you have credit monitoring? How about triple alert monitoring?
I used to live in a world in which in order to survive I simply had to know not to walk into the wrong neighborhood after dark. Now I live in a world in which my email and internet use take me to the wrong neighborhoods without my knowing. There are seemingly dozens of evildoers parked on my block preparing to hack into my router if I don’t set up the security correctly.
If I don’t protect myself, my life will be destroyed!!
Let’s all relax. There are reasonable precautions to take in this info world. Certainly don’t reply to emails offering you bank transfers from Nigeria.
But also remember that every moment you spend worrying about these issues you take away from time you could spend on a hobby or with family and friends.
Besides, we often spend our anxieties on boogeyman that don’t really exist. More often than not, the mishaps in life aren’t those we fear, but the unexpected. Matt Weinstein lost his entire life savings in a way he would never have predicted. He also discovered things that were more important than privacy and financial security.