You Will Never Reach Your Destination

How to get things done - Part IV

In our last post I talked about active and reactive states as it relates to work optimization. I hope you discovered something useful or were able to apply the strategy to fit your working style. Today, I am going to talk about how to manage work by mitigating distractions. 

Distractions & Work

Some vices like social media or a glass of Japanese whisky seem obvious, but you might be surprised by what's actually slowing you down.

Anything that is not related to a primary task is a distraction.

For example, if working on a speech is your primary task, then your desire to clean your messy room, at that very moment, is a distraction. Or, if your primary task is to write a blog post, then researching facts at that very moment, might be a distraction. 

Socrates considered writing a distraction. He argued with Plato about how writing things down distracted the mind from the true essence of an oral lesson. 

Distractions are like bad habits: easy to share, difficult to change.

Don't worry, there is an easy fix.

Make it difficult to access your distractions.

For example, when I was working on my book, I deleted my Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone. I did not delete the accounts; I just made it difficult to access the distractions. 

The same strategy applies when you are trying to lose weight. If the cookies your roommate bought are hidden a few rows deep in the pantry, then it's less likely you will eat them.

When I write, I like to separate my writing (primary task) from my editorial work (secondary task). I find doing either one interchangeably distracts me from getting things done. 

The opposite is also true, if I am editing and a new idea comes to mind, then that idea becomes a distraction. So if new or creative idea pops up as I write, I park it on piece of paper and revisit it later. 

All of us work differently, and the key is to find a method that works best for us. But, if you are like me and find yourself switching between primary and secondary tasks, then I would encourage you to remove distractions that masquerade as work.

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”

 Winston S. Churchill