Don’t you just hate it when you’re on a roll and you’re distracted by something…
Bamm… focus gone to smithereens…
Or you have a good couple of hours ahead of you in which to get this one thing done that you’ve been trying to get around to for days, and just as you’re getting down to it, there’s the mail man, with that package you were waiting for.
Of course you’d better check to see if everything’s in order, and so of course you open the package – and in hindsight, that was my first mistake today. It was a cable adapter for my computer and I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say: it didn’t work.
That does something to me. For starters, I need to know why it doesn’t work. Can a simple download solve it? Did I buy the wrong product? Oh, wait, I’m supposed to set it up first. Weird! Can’t these things just work out of the box? It’s a simple USB-adapter, come on! Maybe it’s my cable…
Even as I dive in, a little alarm goes off in the back of my head. “You were going to work on your project, remember?”
I nod and promise myself I will just check what the problem is and then once I know, I will leave the solution for later. Which of course I don’t and an hour later I am happy to say my little cable is working exactly the way it should.
Now, where was I?
At that point, I have completely lost the connection with what I was going to do, but, being familiar with my distractive -or should I say destructive- habits, I re-establish the connection, only to find that I could use a cup of coffee. “I’ll work better with coffee,” I tell myself and enter the kitchen, after having promised myself I’ll be really quick about it.
Might as well use the toilet, now that I’m here. See? Not so bad, two birds with one stone. Oh, look, Facebook!
The coffee is nearly cold by the time I exit the bathroom, but hey, everyone needs a break, right? I take my near-cold coffee back to my office and get down to it.
Where was I? Ah, yes…
I’ve only just made up my mind about how to proceed with the next step of my project when one of the dogs wants out. I usually leave the door open so they can come and go as they please, but today’s a chilly, rainy day and I have closed the door. Which means I have to play doorman. I let him out and wait for a moment: is he coming straight back in or is this it? Ah, there’s dog number two. He just stands in the doorway, waiting for me: “You going out or back in?”
While I stand there, my dad walks in through the front door. If I’d been seated at my desk, it would have been clear from the onset that I was working. But I’m just standing there and this means I have all the time in the world. For him. Cos why not? He wants to talk about computer issues. When doesn’t he?
He’s a computer issue magnet! There’s always something wrong with his. And he knows I’m not the go-to-gal for geeky things, but he needs to vent, and I am the go-to-gal for venting!
Once he’s gone, I need a few minutes to regroup.
I feel a little uncomfortable, cos I didn’t offer him coffee, but I really do need to get on with my work, or the day will be over! And as I get my note book and check my last comments, I’m reminded of my room mate back at college. She invariably waited so long to get down to her studies, that by the time she did, panic had already set in and she’d be unable to even make a start. And instead she’d tidy up her desk. And then she’d start vacuuming.
I didn’t notice the first time, but as one block of exams followed another, you could always count on Mouse to start cleaning the house that specific week.
I decide I’m not like that and grab my pen. An email notification pops up.
Need I even continue?
I’m determined not to follow the pop up, but it’s already shattered my frail focus. Turns out my laptop wants to update. Yeah, well, I don’t. But that notification just keeps popping up. Has been for weeks. It’s about time I dealt with that. If I hit this button, it should… no, wait… that one… shouldn’t take a moment…
I’m again reminded of my room mate Mouse…
By the time I’m finally ready to dive in, the dogs decide it’s time for dinner. It isn’t. Not by a long shot. But they reckon it’s worth a try. The problem is, from here on in they’ll be restless until it ís time for dinner, which isn’t for at least another hour. And restless dog energy is the last thing I need…
At this point I’m more than a little annoyed with myself. I knew this would happen. They always get restless around now. Why didn’t I leave all this silly ‘busy work’ until now. What chance do I have to focus from here on in?
I heave a sigh and wonder if this is another day I should simply write off…
Sometimes it seems I just breathe distractions.
I’m a distraction magnet!
But at the same time I know exactly why this is happening.
Knowing why doesn’t make me particularly good at preventing it, but at least I don’t have to break out my journal and sit with that, because I know why:
I am locked into a distractive pattern. I create them by default.
The only time I don’t create distractions for myself, is when I’m really clear on where I’m going with my projects. As long as I’m clear, I can keep going for hours. But once I’m less clear, my ‘distract me, Now!’ button comes on and they present, one after another, until the day is up.
Getting clear isn’t all that hard, in and of itself, but all of my projects have this one little draw-back in common: they require something of me that I, at some point in my life, said I would never do:
I promised my little 7-year old self that I would keep her safe. And keeping her safe meant ‘not stepping into the lime light’. Keeping her safe meant flying under the radar.
But here’s the thing:
All of my projects require me to get out of the shadows and step into the light!
My inner 7-yo and I have discussed this extensively. She knows things have changed. She knows there’s nothing to be afraid of now. And she understands I no longer want to honour that old -and now obsolete- commitment. I no longer want to be held back by it. I want to fly high!
In the course of this project I’ve been finding out in how many ways my promise to her just keeps raising its head.
And if it weren’t so disruptive, it would be quite laughable, cos it’s All the Effin’ Time!
Fortunately I really love this project and I’m very committed to seeing it through. And so I have created a structure that allows me to play with my ‘distraction pattern’ and still move forward, even if it’s not as fast as I might have liked.
I know I’ll be seeing this project through, because it’s not just about me; it’s about helping you, the women in my tribe, to create that effective structure for yourself; it’s about helping you meet your old commitments head on and moving forward towards what you really want to be doing.
Just because it’s not always easy, doesn’t mean we can’t do it!
And just because at times it’s slow going, doesn’t mean we won’t get there!
Of course we do actually have to take the steps to get there, even if it is just one step at a time.
But hey, that’s the way to eat an elephant… one bite at a time!