One of the biggest issues I’ve had most of my life with getting things done is the ease with which I’m distracted. By the time my daughters were 5 or 6 and I was told they both had mild ADD/ADHD, I realized I probably shared their characteristics, no matter what name or label might be put on it. Like so many other things deemed “mental health issues” (think autism, bi-polar, etc.) there’s been a lot of name-changing over the last 60-odd years.
Schizophrenia has become several newly named things including bi-polar disorder. Autism has been broken out various groupings, and maybe un-grouped by now, probably depending who’s in charge of psychological designations this week.
Regardless, of what label you might give it, (or not which is my preference) my propensity for distraction is shared by many, including my kids.
Finding Order in Chaos
Take today for instance. I tagged along to my daughter’s Girl Scout meeting so they wouldn’t have to go all the way home to get me for our dinner date afterwards. I set up my laptop in an adjacent room and started the usual folderol associated with connecting to a new network, getting my poor, tired beast (the laptop, not me) to respond, and getting connected to Slack, where one of my clients prefers to communicate.
Frustration ensued when Outlook proved cantankerous. I kept getting the dreaded “not responding” message and had to shut it down a couple of times. Then the laptop screen went dark (a recent development) and I had to shut the whole bloody thing down.
When I finally got the email program functioning marginally well, I couldn’t find the message from Slack which helped me find my accounts. It showed up on my phone, but didn’t allow me to do the confirmation nonsense, but was nowhere to be found on my laptop—until it dawned on me I was searching for it in the wrong email account (I have 5 on Outlook plus my gmail account).
At long last, I had Slack set up, had checked transactions on my investment account, and started typing gibberish in a blog post until inspiration struck. Meanwhile, the meeting had started, childish voices jabbering excitedly as my daughter and son-in-law efficiently wrangled their little herd of cats and got them started on today’s project. With a Disney movie playing in the background (I suspect a few who share my attention issues in the troop) my stage was set for creativity.
Compartmentalizing the Distractions
Surprisingly, it is the perfect setting for one like me whose mind jumps from rock to rock in a rushing stream of consciousness. With my laptop set up in front of a window which overlooks a stand of trees and what looks like clumps of lavender, my mind actually has enough to keep it busy while staying on task and writing the second-to-last blog post for April—right on schedule.
I got tired of trying to calculate when a post was due if I wanted to stay at least 2 weeks ahead, so I finally put due dates on the Trello cards for each publishing day. According to the one for this post, I’m supposed to have it written, formatted, and scheduled by midnight tonight. No problem!
I’d actually gotten almost 3 weeks ahead instead of the 2 I require, but last week, and some major distractions have me, once again, scrambling to meet my self-imposed deadlines.
Getting Myself Unstuck
The problem was a post I was working on for a client. It wasn’t coming together as I’d have liked. Unfortunately, it affected everything I tried to do afterwards, including posts for another client and myself. Finally, at the end of my rope of frustration, I picked up pad, pen, and my ever-present water bottle and relocated to my front porch.
I wrote this and that (it didn’t have to make sense or be the Great American Novel) for an hour or so as the sun sank behind the trees and the chirping birds slipped away to their nighttime retreats. Every so often, one of my “barn cats” would wander over to ask for a little attention,. Sometimes I paused in my scribbling to oblige, other times, I multi-tasked. (believe it or not, there were thoughts I wanted to complete in the 4 or 5 pages I scribbled while enjoying the rare quiet in my neighborhood as darkness fell).
By the time I finished and went back inside, I was not only able to finish the article for the first client, but start one for a second. The only thing that slipped as the week came to a close was my personal schedule for posts. Unfortunately, that meant my newly created plan to post on Elephant Journal every Monday fell by the wayside this week.
A Toolbox Full of Solutions
You might think having to deal with distractions, blocks, and the rest of what life likes to throw in our paths would get to me after awhile. But as I learned when my daughters were young to put a little coffee in their milk so they wouldn’t bound off the walls as badly in the hours they were forced to sit in a classroom, I know my own blocks and distractions are manageable.
It might be writing on the porch or patio. It might be a walk. Or I might need to take my hot pink writing bag and find a relatively quiet coffee shop or cafe where I can scribble for a little while about everything and nothing.
Sometimes I get inspired after a night of dancing in the 2 or 3 hours it takes me to unwind. Other times, the words flow right after I feed the cats and jump into my day. The one thing I’ve learned though is, with the exception of my morning pages, I can’t put my writing on a strict schedule.
Each Week is Different
One week, I’m on a tear and might knock out 5 blog posts and a couple of chapters of whatever I’m working on. The next, if I get one post written, I’m doing well. No matter what kind of week I’m having, the one commonality is never beating myself up for the quantity of productivity or lack thereof.
I know eventually it all evens out, and to be honest, with a little perseverance and a respect for my own cycles, the productive weeks outweigh the slack ones. I’m able to manage both my clients and my personal requirements on time or early, just as I did when I was working in Corporate America. The difference is, I feel a far greater sense of accomplishment these days because whatever I put out, even if no one but my client ever knows I wrote it, is the result of my skills, my talents, and my ability to set deadlines and commit to them every single time. It only took me about 4 years to figure out how to honor those commitments to myself.
Need Help Managing Your Distractions?
Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!
When All Else Fails, Gratitude Overcomes All
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for lessons learned, no matter how long it took me to get there.
- I am grateful for increased productivity and respect for commitments I make to myself.
- I am grateful for the ability to be creative despite 12 chattering girls,, a Disney movie, and recalcitrant laptops.
- I am grateful for all the new and exciting opportunities coming my way.
- I am grateful for abundance; love, family, friendships, dancing, inspiration, motivation, commitments, relationships, expanding worlds, vivid dreams, opportunities, and all the people in my world who help me be my very best me.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward