How To Avoid Distraction


[Photo: LIFE Magazine]

Project Squirrel


We’re all guilty of day dreaming or staring out of the window in the middle of the day. We’re human and it happens to the best of us. Some times due to too little sleep, boredom or lack of nutrition we’re not at our most productive.

In this sense a ‘squirrel’ is anything you get distracted by. People walking past, the clouds drifting along outside your window, the hot new colleague who sits 2 desks down, the credit card bill sitting on your kitchen counter at home. Squirrels can be anything.

Have you noticed the direct link between squirrels and hours in the day? Those people who are distracted by ‘squirrels’ tend to have less hours in the day than those who keep their mind sharp and focused. Every one of us has 24 hours in a day.

If you’re one of the squirrel chasers in the world, here are a few tips and tricks to make your life easier and help you get stuff done.

Write A List

For everything that needs doing in your life and business. Grab some A3 and scribble EVERYTHING down. From “clean bathroom” to “pay electric bill”, “write blog” to “arrange meeting with new client”. You can then build ‘urgent’ ‘soon’ and ‘some point’ lists.

I love having a daily, weekly and monthly to do list so that I know what is happening in my life. I find that writing my daily list out the day before helps me mentally prepare for the following day.

No one goes in to battle unprepared.

Bye Bye Big Task

If you have one massive scary item on your mind/list, get it out of the way before you do anything else. If you need to phone HMRC, do your accounts, sack a member of staff or swap your winter/summer wardrobe over, then get it out of the way first thing. Otherwise you’ll be spending the whole day worrying about it, you’ll get all the little jobs tied up and then convince yourself you no longer have the time and it’ll have to be left until tomorrow.

Let me tell you - Tomorrow never comes.


I’m pretty good at holding myself accountable. I know that if I don’t do my job then the ripple effect can effect not only me, but my business, my clients and ultimately their business and I’m not prepared to let that happen! If you struggle with not hitting goals or making your ideas a reality, I suggest you get an Accountability Buddy.

Someone you trust who can hold your hand and kick you in the butt at the same time. I actually have a few. Hold monthly or weekly meetings (either face to face or virtually) and help each other stay on track. When you’re accountable to someone else, you work better. No one wants to let others down.

Be Realistic

I know we all like to convince ourselves that we’re superhuman but we’re not. We’re, unfortunately, a pretty basic species. Be realistic with yourself, your abilities and your timescales.

You’re probably not going to write a 70,000 word book in a week. That “quick” email you need to send will probably take you longer than you think. Lets not forget the hour you blocked out for a meeting… make it two hours.

The best way to be realistic is to know what you’re up against. I use a timer to time everything I do down to the last second. I challenge you to time all your tasks for a week. You’ll be amazed at how much time ‘little jobs’ take and you’ll also be able to see where you’re wasting time too.

There is nothing quite as time consuming as “I’ll just check that FB notification” - 1 check, 6 link clicks, 9 YouTube videos (about cats) later, and your deadline seems scarily close.

Be Selfish

Time is something that none of us can get back. Once that second hand makes it’s move, there is no rewinding it. It’s over. Being selfish with your time does not make you a selfish or horrible person. It makes you a self aware, strong minded and more focused person.

By focusing on the task at hand you’ll be surprised how many more hours in the day there are to get things done. You’ll have more time to spend with friends and family, more time to read your favourite blog or book and more time to spend on you.

When the work is done, you can then focus on the… Oooo Look a squirrel.