Cutting Down On Distractions

We each of us have at least eight hours a day which we can use to be highly productive, when we work from home. With no commuting time, nothing else to focus on, no distractions from peers of colleagues, and full choice over whether we answer the door or phone, or not, people who work from home must be the most productive, prolific and successful people on the planet.

Right?

So, why do we seem to be stressed, floundering or sometimes simply swamped with work? How come we can never seem to reach the end of the bottomless pit which is our list of things to do, and walk away from the end of the working day feeling smug, satisfied and relaxed?

Distractions. The one thing coming between each of us and reaching our goals for our business. The thing which prevents full productivity, and stops us from achieving everything which we dream of both on our blogs and throughout the rest of our lives.

When you take any given day, how is yours filled? What do you do, usually, which takes you away from your desk and plunges you in to the sphere of unproductivity? For me, it’s small things which you don’t even question – helping out around the house, popping out to the store, tinkering in the garden. All of these things, as valid activities, tend to work well to keep me from doing the actions which I have set out for the day to help my business, without making me feel guilty about wasting time.

The problem is, however, they are all time wasters. If I had the method and perseverance to stop getting sidetracked by activities which weren’t associated with my blog or business, imagine how much I could achieve? Imagine the potential if I could tap in to a full eight hours a day without getting carried away with a job in the house or garden, a phone call from a friend or that sudden desperate urge I have to go and check out the box set of ‘24’?

The reality is, not one person on the planet has the power, diligence or downright stubbornness to seat themselves at their desk and apply themselves to their business for a full eight hours. Basic needs such as the washroom or lunch time will come in to play. We will need a coffee. The dog will need walking. All of these activities can be undertaken in less than half an hour a day, perhaps. This still leaves a full seven and a half hours to get on with what needs to be done.

Breaks from work are positive – they leave us feeling refreshed and comfortable, ready to apply ourselves again. The trick is to know just how long a break you may need to leave you ready for work, without letting your break expand until it becomes your full day. If you go to the kitchen to fix a sandwich, don’t suddenly notice that the washing up needs doing, the shopping putting away, the refrigerator re-stocking. Do what needs to be done, and then go back to work.

Having a conscious battle against distractions is tough at first, but very soon it becomes a habit – a discipline which you can apply automatically without feeling an internal struggle. Give it a go – and see what you are capable of, if you set your mind to it.

24 thoughts on “Cutting Down On Distractions”

  1. Having a child at home through the summer ensures lots of breaks! I usually have several kids running through my house while I work.. … wait, maybe that’s why I’m distracted! LOL.. ok. back to work. Thanks Joel. Always love your content.

    1. I know what you mean, it can be tricky to concentrate with kids running around and screaming – I just want to join them! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Michelle!

  2. Hey Joel,

    Yes breaks are important and that’s why I don’t blame my staff as well if they extend breaks to do something important outside of work then go back to work afterwards as they always got the time throughout the day. Having a break is totally healthy because if you’ll not then you’ll end the eight hour straight brainwashed I think and I don’t think majority of people would want that. 

    Tyrone

    1. Hi Tyrone,
      I think I’m often a 12 or 14 hour brainwashed person! I need to take more breaks than I do, but it’s hard sometimes with a lot to do, you get in “the zone” easily.

  3.  I still find email that I feel I have to read a distraction – I welcome spam type stuff as i can just delete it! Its the stuff which draws me in to read something interesting I can’t resist!

  4. Yeah, Joel, distractions are a personal curse for me. I’m going to start using the Muse that helps me with my poetry writing. Rather than a woman, which is the traditional muse, my muse is a big dark buffed out guy who wears at flat top sombrero. He also has a .44 magnum strapped to his hip, and every time I get a silly frilly poem line in my head, he  quick draws an blasts it out of existence. I’m going to multi-task  him to do the same with blogging distractions. GO WRITE CONTENT. NOW. PUNK.
    Thanks always for your great info and tips.

  5. Hi Joel, 
    I totally resonate with the information you provide in this post.  After coming home from work, it’s a challenge in itself trying to get anything constructive done with regard to blogging and an online business.  The part you mentioned about making it a habit so that things do not become a struggle is so true.  For those who juggle a job along with their blogging ventures, I highly recommend that they write down what it is they wish to get accomplished the following day, keep the list with them and adhere to it.  Less time spent figuring out what you want to get done because you already have it written down.

    Keep up the good posts!
    Erik
    http://www.erikvonwerlhof.com

  6. Hi Joel, 
    I totally resonate with the information you provide in this post.  After coming home from work, it’s a challenge in itself trying to get anything constructive done with regard to blogging and an online business.  The part you mentioned about making it a habit so that things do not become a struggle is so true.  For those who juggle a job along with their blogging ventures, I highly recommend that they write down what it is they wish to get accomplished the following day, keep the list with them and adhere to it.  Less time spent figuring out what you want to get done because you already have it written down.

    Keep up the good posts!
    Erik
    http://www.erikvonwerlhof.com

  7. Hi Joel, 
    I totally resonate with the information you provide in this post.  After coming home from work, it’s a challenge in itself trying to get anything constructive done with regard to blogging and an online business.  The part you mentioned about making it a habit so that things do not become a struggle is so true.  For those who juggle a job along with their blogging ventures, I highly recommend that they write down what it is they wish to get accomplished the following day, keep the list with them and adhere to it.  Less time spent figuring out what you want to get done because you already have it written down.

    Keep up the good posts!
    Erik
    http://www.erikvonwerlhof.com

  8. Great blog Joel. Turning distractions into positive breaks instead of a chore is an awesome way to handle your day to day needs. Now all I have to do is stop getting further distracted by creating time limits. Cheers Elly

  9.  Joel:
          I can certainly relate!  For me it’s usually my e-mails.  I spend so much time going through them, I get very little else done.  I’ve learned “The first thing you do each is what gets done”.  Now I take care of my business before I ever think about e-mails.

    1. Email is a wonderful tool but can go bad very often I know! My business goes a lot through email so I can’t ignore it I just have to prioritize it. Thanks for the comment.

  10. Maybe its because people like them so much – that distractions are so abundant. If it weren’t for distractions, some people wouldn’t have a life. Another way of saying distractions are only distractions when they hurt. The challenge in “cutting down on distractions” might be similar to “cutting down on cigarettes”. For who thinks they are a blessing, the idea of cutting down on them probably looks absurd. :-]
    – Beat

  11. Hi Joel,

    I have a time that i start in the morning.  I do have to watch the little distraction somedays.  I do find that when I take a break I will go check my flower garden and see about taking the dead flowers off or weeds.  As for eating, I really have to watch myself, I am one that if busy I forget to eat, then find my mood sliding down the hill side ways.  No good.  People don’t appreciate comments that I may make on there blog. LOL

    Have have gotten myself in the habit of doing laundry and cleaning house on the weekend or evening.  What I do miss the most is interaction with the outside world.  Someday I do have take a day or afternoon off and just get out of the house.

    Thank you for reminding me how we can get caught up in the distractions and forget to take care of bussiness.
    Blessing,
    Debbie

    1. I do miss interaction sometimes, though the days go by pretty quickly when you’re busy. I think a healthy balance is something that needs work, it’s easy to go too far one way or the other without noticing. Thanks for the comment!

  12. There are distractions and then there is the schedule. Distractions for me are looking at email before I do work. Not planning my day so that I get sidetracked and get no really important task accomplished. I plan in exercise, dog walking and contingencies for interruptions I like such as my Daughter calling. I actually work more than 8 hours, but I spread the work out over 12. My biggest secret is getting up at 0500 and putting in 3 hours before the chickens get up.

    1. That’s an early start Bruce! I used to get to the office early when I worked in the corporate world. Not any more, I take advantage of being home and a short commute. However I do often work very late, I prefer it that way as it’s quiet then too 🙂

  13. Distractions are a bother but a blessing in disguise.  When you ralize it ia 1 PM and yoy got on fline at 8 AM – you haven’t haD BREAKFAST  and you are hungry, it is time to STOP.

    At this point your blood sugar level has dropped and you are not concentrating well anyway.

    Pack it in.  Go down and get the paper outside the door you have not read.  Stop eveything for about an houe and return fresh.

    The world will not end.  I promise 

    1. That’s a great point, I certainly don’t take enough breaks, and that may increase productivity. It’s one of the arguments for giving employees more vacation/holiday time – it’s proven they work better when more rested. Thanks Corrine

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