Eliminate Distractions!

Life Balance

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Eliminate Distractions!

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Eliminate Distractions!How serious are you about your core priorities -- the Big Things you want from life? However serious you've been, my advice is to increase your dedication to those FEW things that will matter to you on your deathbed someday.

What I'm proposing today: clear your mind and your schedule by eliminating everything extraneous so you can pour yourself into the Big Things.

What Counts as a Distraction?

You might think of a "distraction" only as something that interrupts you or obviously keeps you from concentrating. People stopping by your desk at work, a dripping faucet, that sort of thing.

But take a wider view. A distraction is ANYTHING keeping you from doing your Big Things. It could be a relationship that's out of whack, or money worries sitting at the back of your mind. It could be your health, or the fact that you haven't clarified your Big Things.

Find these distractions, no matter how big or small, and commit to eliminating them.

How Do You Get Rid of Distractions?

There are probably a thousand ways to do this, but here are six to get you started. All of them work for me.

  1. Emphasize peace and quiet. Just like it's a bad idea to let your kids do their homework with the TV on, it's a bad idea to try to concentrate on your Big Things with random distractions around. If you're unsure about your ideal working environment, try silence and calm first.
  2. Go for Flow. Psychological research has demonstrated that we do our best, most creative work when we have long enough to sink down into the work without worrying about time pressure or the immediate outcome of the work. You know when you get "lost in your work" to the point that you lose track of time? You want to put yourself in that state regularly.
  3. Build good little habits. I work in an open office environment that can be noisy, so I always have my headphones and classical music handy. If I need to concentrate, I shut off my e-mail, play some Bach, and dwell in my own little world. Find habits like this that work for you.
  4. Prepare. It's hard to write the Great American Novel when you can't find a sharp pencil. Whether it means packing your lunch ahead of time, keeping your guitar in tune, or setting your alarm to go off early, make the preparations you need to support your work on the Big Things.
  5. Fix everything two ways. This means that you not only stop the sound of the leaky faucet by closing the door to the bathroom, but that you actually get in there and fix the faucet. Note that this applies to things like relationships, too. If you're having trouble with your spouse, for example, a quick apology might fix it for the moment. But to really mend a broken relationship, it might take a year of therapy and many tear-filled conversations. Yet that year of work could be a small price to pay, in the scheme of your whole life, for the sense of resolution it creates. So, however big the problem is, get in there and fix it.
  6. Decide what you will and won't care about. This one's pretty simple. If displaying your prosperity isn't high on your list of priorities, go ahead and decide that you don't care what the Joneses think of your old beat-up car. It's much cheaper and simpler than buying a new Mercedes.

And Then What Happens?

With distractions out of your way, you can put more time and more energy into your core priorities. It's no good if you get rid of distractions and then just sit around waiting for inspiration to strike: you have to work hard and work regularly -- probably every day -- on the Big Things. That will sharpen your mind to the tasks you need to accomplish, and you'll be able to get farther, faster simply by virtue of having more practice.

But you'll also likely find that keeping your Big Things in mind will help you see all kinds of new connections that you never saw before. Ideas will come to you in the shower or on your morning commute. You'll want to sit down after dinner to jot down your ideas. That sort of thing.

When it happens, harness it. Let the process of creative problem-solving take over your mind. Don't resist it or revert to your old habits of distraction. Double down on your newly honed priorities instead.

Now, how about you? What are you doing to eliminate distractions?

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Tim Walker, Life Balance Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief ServicesTim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro living in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Tim on Twitter;http://twitter.com/twalk

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  • Wonderful tips to get yourself focused! I am a neat freak so I cannot do small tasks like reading, writing or even sleeping without making sure everything is neat and organized. Also, being prepared is one of the most important things we may all take for granted. It is so important to have a small cash fund for emergencies, a little extra food in the pantry in case you have a hard month, or simply anticipating your near future so you can know what actions you will take. Thanks for the great list!

  • Thanks so much, Sara -- really appreciate it.

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