Eliminate Distractions And Get Something Done!

I'll be the first to admit it - I have the attention span of a flea! Now, I don't know that many fleas personally, but I have a feeling they wouldn't be the best at concentrating. Similarly, my mind enjoys wandering from here to there on a whim...usually at the worst times.

Usually those are the times I'm trying to be productive and actually accomplish one whole task. Generally I work for a little while, remember something I was supposed to do, go do that, and then find something else out there I was planning on doing, too. (While writing that sentence I realized it's time to move the laundry to the dryer. Hopefully I'll find my way back...today.)

If I don't work hard to eliminate the distraction in my everyday life, I'll never complete anything. You'll walk into our home and see partial scrapbooks, half-read magazines, piles of clean clothes and water boiling over on the stove. To prevent this kind of scene, these are some tricks of the trade I've picked up on over time.

1. Woman, know thyself. I cannot work uninterrupted from breakfast until supper. I cannot sit in one chair for hours on end looking at the same computer screen. I cannot be expected to create the perfect schedule. These realizations took years to figure out, but once I did I had the freedom to move from project to project and not feel guilty. Instead of beating myself up over inconsistencies, I simply laugh, move on and finish what I was working on.

2. Set a time limit. There are many things I enjoy doing - crafting, writing, reading, cooking - and I like to have the freedom of doing several of them each day. The only way I can do that, and keep my sanity intact, is by limiting the amount of time I spend on one activity. As much as I love stamping and scrapbooking, I can only play for a little while before I have to get up and do something else - I've only got so much stamina. If I decide to stamp until lunchtime, that will give me the afternoon to accomplish some other things, but I can still have fun until I get hungry.

3. Make a list...yeah! I love lists more than just about anything. By seeing exactly what I'd like to do today written in black and white (or sometimes fluorescent pink) I can bounce back and forth between those few things. This keeps me from wandering around in a haze wondering what I should/could be doing, because that is a very definite possibility. Just for today pick half a dozen chores, projects or tasks you'd like to work on, even if just for a few minutes. Then work on the first one for half an hour - if you'd like to keep going, keep going. If you're bored or just want to do something else for a while, pick something else off your list knowing you can always come back to this one later.

4. Only set achievable goals. Yes, I would love to spend an entire day writing, but my fingers and my brain will not let me. If I set out to try to spend all day at the computer, I would go blind, break my back and put parts of my body to sleep. Then I would get all disappointed because I didn't accomplish what I set out to do. Instead, I cut the time down, choose one chapter goals and work until I reach them. This way I don't feel bad for not pushing myself to the breaking point. Doing that squeezes the fun out of one of my favorite past times.

5. Remove any offensive objects. I can't listen to music while I write. I can't do anything if I hear the dryer buzzer go off because I feel like I need to go handle it right now. If there is something you know will pull you away from your current project, take it out of the equation. You might need to turn off the music or television, sit the kids down with a project of their own or gather all the supplies you need before you get started. Don't try to multitask and don't be tempted to answer every phone call and e-mail, even if just for an hour. You'll be shocked at what time-eaters those things are when you see how much you can accomplish.

6. Be accountable. Whether it's to your husband or a friend who can check in on you, there's a lot of motivation when you have an accountability partner. They're not meant to poke at you until you get something done, just to remind you that there's someone supporting you - and you need to get something done! Pick somebody sweet or somebody stern, depending on what kind of help you need. Then look forward to a phone call or talk to them at church about what you've accomplished.

7. Create a temporary distraction of your own. There's also nothing that says you have to be on task every minute of every day. I have times when I have to close my eyes for a few minutes or step away and read a magazine for a little while. Walking the dogs gets my blood flowing and a quick game on the computer stimulates my mind again. These breaks will make going back to your project that much easier and give you some motivation until your next break. Remember - all work and no play makes for a dull woman!


  1. I'm just like you when it comes to distractions, Laura. I must have silence when I'm writing or reading, or working on a transcript. I too must "switch up" throughout the day so as not to get stiff and sore from sitting in one position for too long! Not a spring chicken any more ... LOL

  2. Plus, don't you feel like you need refrshing mentally as well as physically?


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