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Dealing with Distractions

How to stay on task even when people distract you.

By
Stever Robbins
Episode #067

Today's topic is staying on task when we get distracted. The quick and dirty tip is to use external reminders to stay on task. 

Natalie writes:

Dear Get-It-Done Guy, I need help!

Every time I try to do something I get distracted and then forget the task I should have been doing. Do you have any tips on dealing with distractions?

Do I have tips on dealing with distraction? Of course! The very question itself reminds me of that time in third grade when I was playing with the yellow silly putty, and Leslie Goldstein was playing with a red hammer. Well, of course, even then, I realized that yellow and red would make a great clothing combination, so I went straight over to the fingerpaint, grabbed some library paste (yum! tasty!) and headed towards Leslie with a single-minded determination…ummm, where was I? Distractions! Right!

It’s easy to get distracted. Humans are built that way. We have built-in distractions called “daydreams.” We’ll be sitting in math class, and the instant the teacher writes an equation on the board, WHAM! We’re sitting on a desert island, sipping fruit-flavored beverages, enjoying the sun as we’re fanned with palm fronds. Then we hear our name, as if through a far-off veil, “Stever? Mr. Robbins? Are you listening to me? What is the value of X?” Oh, cow patties. Back to reality.

The Answer to Distractions are Outside

What brought us back to reality was an outside force. And there’s the secret. We get distracted from the inside. We do it by making the distraction seem more important than the thing we’re supposed to be paying attention to. It’s April 15th, 9 p.m. Taxes are due at the post office by midnight. And yet, rescuing our clean underwear from the dryer is suddenly the most important thing in our lives. (By the way, after writing that sentence, I ran downstairs to empty the dryer. Then my Twitter-friend Henry sent me to a cool YouTube video. Two hours later, I’m back.)

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT. 

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