How to simply avoid Distractions to Success
Distractions to Success are something that at one time or another we all fall foul of. They are like little white lies. No such thing exists. We try and rationalise our bad habits like texting or abundant amounts of time on social media as if they were acceptably non-productive – but in truth it is an oxymoron.
As streamlined as we think we have made our lives, it appears to me as though we have just jammed in more tasks to the already limited time we have.
As I speak to audiences about productivity and time management it becomes clear we don’t need time management practices so much as a clear focus on what tasks we need to achieve.
What ever way you cut it, the jobs which really need to be completed will always rise to the top of our list, but often at the wrong time… just as you realize you don’t have enough time to complete them.
So how do we avoid distractions to success?
In a sense it is simple. We need to shake the jar and see what rises to the top.
You have probably heard the analogy about how many rocks can you get in a jar?
The story goes like this…
Add some big rocks until the jar is full. That is then all you can add right.
No because you can add some pebbles in the cracks and fill the jar. Then it is full right?
No, because we can add sand and really fill the jar.
Wow, now we have a lot of stuff in that jar.
That, my friends is how we go so busy. That annoying analogy of how we cram our workday is what has lead to a chronic and systemic distraction to success.
Something the size of a grain of sand can stop us, and does, from focussing on the real task at hand.
But how do I find the big rocks?
If you have been to a town in Western Australia called Kalgoorlie, you will know that despite all of the massive amounts of underground mining, some of the biggest nuggets of gold are found where? Right at the surface. Right under our noses.
The problem is that we are so focussed on moving sand that we forget to look on the surface. We get too deep in to the administrivia and distractions we let the world throw our way.
Sorting out the important from the distractions can be as simple as shaking the jar.
Technically, it is a process called granular convection.
You see if we put all of those mixed sizes of rock in one jar and shake it, the big stuff rises to the top. Right where we need it to be.
So you need to get used to shaking your day up a little.
In a productive world we give 20% of our time to the important tasks. That is it. Pareto’s principle in effect right there.
So what if we were to reverse the principle and give our important tasks 80% of our time… wow, what a concept.
It is possible, and it has little to do with time management. It has a lot to do with focus.
How to avoid working in the sandbox.
We encounter numerous distractions to success because we have a habit of focussing on a grain of sand more easily than the critical task.
Those grains of sand could be:
But to be truly productive we need to isolate the most critical tasks – the big rocks.
A friend of mine calls them the MIT’s, (Most Important Tasks).
He gave up writing exhaustive lists of tasks that never were completed and led to guilt and frustration, in favour of writing a list of five MIT’s. It is kind of like the big rock analogy. The typical task list includes the grains of sand – the stuff we truly don’t need to worry about to be successful.
So here are my five tips to focus on what is important to avoid distractions to success.
- Identify your big rocks – what are your MIT’s
- Keep the big rocks at the top – shake the jar a little and analyse what sandbox you have been wasting time in
- Purposefully cut back sandbox time and if necessary play in the sandbox during unproductive times of the day
- Watch out for the big rocks floating to the top – analyse your MIT list to make sure it is current
- Never put more than 5 MIT’s on your list