One of the most common concerns that we hear from our clients is that there is too much to do in too little time. There is much truth to that concern – many of us have more on our plates than we can possibly do in the time allotted. At the same time, there is increasing research that if we are not aggressively managing our distractions, we can be spending a significant portion of the little time we do have struggling with focus, attention, tolerance, and the ability to think at both a high strategic level and at a more practical, tactical level.
For most of us, when we think of distractions, we think about those things that are coming at us from the outside: phone calls, interruptions, noise, etc. But, the more current research demonstrates that we are significantly distracted by our internal thoughts – particularly worries and concerns.
Consider all that is happening in your thoughts as you are trying to do your work, spend time with loved ones, or get your taxes ready. Do you find yourself worrying about:
- Not having enough time?
- Not having enough money?
- Your health or the health of someone you love?
- The stability of your job?
- Needing to lose weight?
- Whether you have the skills needed to succeed at an effort?
- All of the above?
All of these concerns are as noisy and distracting as the things and people that come at us externally. And, while there is no magic answer, there are things you can do to take care of yourself and limit the impact of these worries:
- Pay attention to your sleep, exercise, and ensure healthy food is available to you without a lot of work. These three things can provide a foundation to support you day-to-day.
- Take action on those things that you can do easily and get them out of the way.
- Interrupt yourself when you find your thoughts spinning (remember how we talked about Spirals) – you are either evolving and spiraling up or devolving and spiraling down and when you let your worries and concerns run amok, you allow yourself to spiral down.
– Get up and take a walk when you find yourself worrying – even a walk to the bathroom can interrupt the spiral.
– Talk to friends and colleagues about things you worry about and how to resolve them.
– Seek out the support of a coach who can help you create a plan to interrupt your concerns and can support you in continuing this new behavior even when things are tough.
- Sign up for activities and classes that are fun, fully engage you, and connect you with friends and family.
There is a lot coming at you, externally and internally; and unfortunately, that probably won’t change any time soon. But, you can change how you deal with these distractions and you can make yourself a priority in your own life.