You might call it procrastination, avoidance, or an excuse, but every single one of us is guilty of participating in time wasters. We have an internal roadblock that I like to call, “The Temptation to Distract.”
We face it every day. Whether it’s the television, a text message, or Facebook, when there’s something we don’t feel like doing, or something we don’t feel like feeling, we distract.
So, what’s the big deal with these little time wasters? Just a few minutes on social media isn’t going to hurt anything, right? Well, distractions can become a habit, and like all habits, when it’s repeated, it gains momentum, and that comes at a cost.
It’s 10 am, and you have a big project on your plate today. Your day is rolling, you’ve made a plan, and you’re feeling pretty good. You’re ready to get started on the project. But then, it happens.
Your thoughts start to trickle in. I just need a little inspiration to get my juices flowing before I start. I’ll find an inspirational quote really quick. That should do the trick!
Harmless enough, right? Wrong. This is where the temptation to distract begins.
You decide that Facebook is the perfect place to find an inspirational quote. It makes sense. People always post inspirational quotes on Facebook.
So, you log in, and you’re immediately inundated with updates from your friends and family. You take a few seconds to like and comment on them. Then, as you scroll, you see a political post that you have to read, a cute photo of a dog, and an interesting video that you need to watch.
Before you know it, 30 minutes have passed, and you still haven’t found a quote.
Maybe Facebook isn’t one of your time wasters. Perhaps it’s CNN or Gadget News. Maybe it’s email, YouTube, eating, or drinking coffee. Whatever it is, we’re all guilty. We find something to distract ourselves so that we can feel good in that moment.
Now, maybe this doesn’t sound like you. When it comes to work, you’re able to get and stay engaged, and you can work on a project for hours on end. Perhaps you have the talent of focus. In my work, I’ve found that people like this are often still guilty of distracting themselves from something.
Sometimes it’s a difficult conversation that you’re trying to avoid, so instead, you distract yourself with work. Day after day, you avoid the tough conversation.
Like I said, we’re all guilty of distracting ourselves. Sometimes those distractions aren’t time wasters at all, but rather, they’re a roadblock to our own self-growth.
How Do I Eliminate Time Wasters and Avoid Distractions?
Distraction is all about avoidance. And the problem is that with every avoidance, there is a cost. If you find yourself falling into the temptation to distract, it’s important to ask yourself a couple of questions.
Question One: What is this habit costing me?
Let me tell you; it costs you a great deal.
Distraction is human nature, and it easily becomes a habit. Once you put a habit pattern in motion, it takes on a life of its own. What is initially a 5-minute intention to find a quote on Facebook turns into a 30-minute detour.
Is this good for you? No, because, in the recesses of your mind, you’re likely beating yourself up for these habits of distraction, even if you don’t know it.
There are other ways these time wasters cost us. For example, delayed progress, time loss, projects not being as good as they could have been, not meeting a deadline, and, of course, not feeling like we are delivering our best.
The trick is looking at yourself honestly enough and using the distraction as fuel. This is where the power is. You can’t avoid distractions. The temptation to distract is going to happen, so make it work for you.
Question Two: How do I turn my distractions into intentional distractions so that they work for me?
To create intentional distractions, take yourself through an entire day. Identify your distraction points and be honest about them.
Then, look at each of these distractions and ask yourself which of them actually add something positive to your life? Which of your distractions give you energy or elevate you in some way?
Write down three.
Then for each of these three, think about the point when these go from distractions that add something to your life to time wasters.
Is it 5 minutes? 10 minutes? Whatever that point is, subtract a couple of minutes from that, and that is the amount of time you should allow yourself to use intentional distraction.
Then, plot out those times during the day that you usually distract. Set a timer and use it to your advantage.
Next Time You Have The Temptation to Distract
You can’t avoid distractions entirely. So, take note next time you realize that you’re engaging in a time waster. Or better yet, get in tune with yourself and catch the temptation to distract in its tracks. Then, ask yourself the following:
What is this habit costing me?
How do I turn this into an Intentional Distraction so that it works for me?
Then, activate your Intentional Distraction plan. If you commit to doing this, not only will your days start to elevate, but so will you.
Keep striving for the extraordinary,