OK, this is pitiful. I have to get a lot of writing done before I leave to go racing, and I’m spending my time with other “important” things! What the heck?
The funny thing is that while I’m procrastinating, I’m thinking of the session I teach in EntreLeadership that covers this topic exactly. One of the lessons is, “We can spend time doing ridiculous things to avoid facing the things outside of our comfort zone.” Now, writing is no longer outside of my comfort zone … but sometimes being creative is.
While I have a ton of stuff to write on, attempting to put it together in a format that helps other people, while entertaining them, can be difficult. (Some of you might be thinking I haven’t reached that point yet. :-)) No matter the task or issue, the need to roll up your sleeves and get dirty doesn’t go away. Instead, it compounds on top of something else you’re not getting done at the time.
So what do you do? Here are a few tricks to get you back on task.
- What am I doing?! – Ask yourself from time to time, Is this the most important thing I can be working on right now? If the answer is no, then what is? Why are you not doing it? Self-realization is a powerful thing. I’m writing a post about me discovering that I’m slacking!
- What to do, what to do? – Stay on target with your to-do list. If you don’t have one, you need to get one started. I know. I know. Very few people actually do one because they don’t see the point. Well, read my post What Am I Doing? to see the importance and the ease of doing it right.
- Rinse and repeat – Keep going back to your list throughout the day to make sure you’re staying on task. If you have listed your tasks according to priority, then you will always be handling the most important one at the moment.
- Get outta the trap! – In Stop Answering All Of Your Emails I talk about how much email and instant messaging are a distraction from what we really need to do. Shut them down, so you can stay focused on what you need to get done. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m sure there’s nothing in your inbox that can’t wait a bit to get taken care of. If it’s that important, they will call you.
As you refocus your thoughts and processes, you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done. You’ll start checking off the items on your to-do list with a speed that you wouldn’t think is possible. And then, you can spend more time reading my posts!
Question: What do you do to get on task when you find you’ve distracted yourself?
- What am I doing? (ChrisLoCurto.com)
- Stop answering all of your emails? (ChrisLoCurto.com)
30 thoughts on “What’s Most Important Today?”
Yeah some days I’m like my dog. Oh, a squirrel! Oh, something gross on the sidewalk to eat! Oh, a bird! I get so distracted. For the record, I’ve never eaten anything gross I found on a sidewalk. But I love birds. Any ways, I recently re-started using a daily to-do list. Why I ever abandoned using one is just silly to me because it’s so incredibly helpful. Yesterday on my blog I wrote about why I wrote a personal mission statement. Well, a daily to-do list is like a mission statement for the day! It gives you direction and purpose and helps get you back on task when distractions mount.
That’s absolutely, hey a quarter!!
Joel – I love it! Squirrel – bird – whatever is the next shiny object! Right now I’m commenting on this blog when I should be working on FINISHING my book – I need to have it finished in 4 weeks – but I keep putting it off!
But I totally agree – a daily list is powerful – and I have come to rely on that list!
What’s your book on?
I believe that the book “The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play” by psychologist Neil Fiore is a great resource for anyone who is struggling with distraction and procrastination at work.
One way of staying focused from the beginning is to avoid getting intimidated by all the fears that surround finishing. Much of procrastination is rooted in our fears about ourselves and our talents, and confronting those fears can help us get past mental obstacles and roadblocks.
Also, we can break off tiny pieces of the mountainous job, writing down only tasks that we can accomplish in one day. By addressing pebbles, we are much likelier to meet our goals, which in turn inspire the confidence to climb future mountains.
Loved that book!
Wow, Chris, have we been hanging together without me knowing who you are?
Above is the reason I don’t have email setup on my company’s smart phone, I have even used almost that same line: “If it’s that important, they will call you”. I get distracted easily…
Oh man, I hope you don’t have that copyrighted, the back due royalties will be costly… :).
There ARE benefits to procrastinating. (I wrote about them here:
1. Sometimes the problem fixes itself.
2. Sometimes new knowledge or skill is acquired so the difficulty diminishes.
3. Sometimes the problem becomes a moot point.
4. Sometimes someone else takes care of it.
Not saying we should procrastinate – just saying sometimes it works out okay. Guess I’m hoping to make procrastinators feel better.
I was going to wait to respond 🙂
Jana – thank you so much! I feel better already…..!
You are a racer?! I know people that either like Dave Ramsey or Race, but now both! Thats icing on the cake!
Do you race on your own? Attend schools? What type of racing? I autocross in my local SCCA region in Super Stock class. I drive a Lotus Elise, its a hoot.
Now an actual business question. How does Dave’s company go about saving up cash with out Uncle Sam taking half of the money set aside for retained earnings? We are looking at purchasing a building in the future and would like to save up a large amount of money. This gets a lot harder when you have to give half of your savings away at the end of the year. So we end up putting most of the left over money into profit sharing to reduce our taxable income. But then the money is wrapped up in profit sharing and unable to be used for a building purchase. What would Dave/Chris do?
I race formula cars in SCCA. This weekend was my first pro races. Good and bad results.
As for the savings, When it’s for something big like that, you don’t have much if a choice. You have to have the money, and it tends to take more than a year.
I would talk with a tax attorney to be sure you’re on top of all new laws. They may help you.
I have a pretty short attention span sometimes. I feel like the three year old who finds the shiny thing and plays with it when he should be doing something else! I’ve learned that keeping a to do list and taking short breaks throughout my day is a good way to stay on task.
Haha…that’s me sometimes as well.
I have been blessed with ADHD. It is a blessing b/c God has given me the unique gift of the most intense, deep, concentration and focus humanly possible for 15-20 minutes. Therefore, I have two structures set up.
1. I keep the timer on my iphone set for 20minutes. When it goes off, I check to make sure I’m performing the task I am supposed to be doing, not having drifted off task to something else. If I have drifted, the timer keeps me from wasting an hour or entire day performing nonessential tasks
2. I set 3 year goals in the 7 areas of life. I break these goals all the way down to my daily to-do list which is broken up into 15-20 minute segments on my Outlook Calendar.
Sometimes a splash of water in the face is good.
Lance, we need to chat some time about your goal setting practice. I’m interested in you walking me through it all down to daily tasks. I want to hear how you get from 3-year goals to daily activity.
Have to say – love the splash of water. I have NOT tried that!
You always amaze me!
I have been working hard on a to do list. (and keeping to it) It seems that I start out great, then the phone rings, employee comes in with problem/question, customer stops by, etc… Then the rest of the day goes like Joel commented, go here, do that, fix this, call them, and down the line.
One thing I have noticed is the time that I am working on things I’m supposed to, I seem to be more focused and get more done.
So the list works, but you may have to work it as well.
I also used some of the info from the 4 Hour Work Week about batching calls and emails. The only call I answer is from my wife (she usually texts). Everything else goes to voicemail or email. Problems.etc are qualified then I prioritize them or delegate. I have coached my clients how to communicate with me. It is how I’m able to serve them best.
Look at my to-do lists, before i start on a task. Cut down on multitasking.
I keep a little notepad, for personal things (outside of work) right next to my laptop at home, it’s the first thing i look at when i sit down at my desk, and the last thing before i head out. It has daily immediate to do lists things like pay bills, send so so an email, call kids school etc, but also longer term items like check you are still on track for retirement, vacation plans for next year etc. Some of my friends think it’s excessive, and one suggests it may be bordering on something else:):) but i have learnt unless i do this, i get easily distracted, and will never get things done.
At the office, i have a simple to do list (Just a simple notepad page appropriately tittled “Start_HERE”) on my desktop. This will have daily items as well as long term items too. I look at it before i start the day, and update it throughout the day, and just before i leave the office. Works like a charm!. Took a while, okay a long while to streamline things to this point, with some attempts just plain funny but for now it works great.
I reward myself my reading blogs (like this one:)), and it’s an item on my home to do list, but only after getting through all the other items for the day. Occasionally i “Cheat a little bit”, but i’ve learnt to be gentle and kind to myself. So far so good!
Wow. Well done Jane!!
For me – it has helped to have a business coach. He holds me accountable – to my life plan, my vision, and then my daily disciplines to accomplish what I have said I want to accomplish.
He aggravates me at times when he asks the hard questions after I tell him some new “squirrel” that I’m chasing – or shiny object I have watching….- “so, how is that activity working toward accomplishing your goals and fitting into your life plan?”
Man, I hate it when he does that! But even if you don’t have a coach – you can have an accountability partner – someone who is tough and who won’t let you off the hook – and will hold your feet to the fire.
And you have to be mature enough to put someone like that in your life.
What about those of us whose todolists never get cleaned up and to a new page??? LOL! I seriously seem to cross things off but add way more to them so they never seem to make progress. Time management is always something to work on. I welcome tips and ideas!!! and yes, I mean it.
Look at my post about to do lists and the ABC method. It works. I’m on my phone or I would throw in the link. 🙂
The best thing for me to be doing right now is reading this post! Seriously, thanks 🙂