No matter what plans you make, and what tools you have, something will invariably happen that will try to throw your entire day off into various abysses–non-productive action and procrastination are the main abysses into which I can usually fall. I usually call these things distractions as a whole, because they distract me from the present that I’m currently missing now. Please note, however, that I said these distractions try to throw your entire day off. Whether you give these distractions that power is absolutely up to you.
A Story About Distractions
I got up this morning, brewed my coffee, turned on my computer, and listened to some music while I read through my schedule and e-mails so I can frame my day how I imagine it to go. Just as I was about to start my first rounds of calls, my cable modem restarted, the router lights started blinking, and I lost Internet.
My first reaction was to flip. How dare the world interrupt my ability to work, and my ability to enjoy work! My entire day was absolutely ruined; how in the world could I work without something so essential?!
I could’ve stayed in that mindset. I could’ve spent the day complaining how one event ruined my life today, and I could’ve wallowed in my misery that I will get nothing done today. I suppose, for many, it’s the usual place to go, and also a comfortable place to go. But it doesn’t seem very productive, or mindful, or an effective use of a day that hasn’t even hit 10:00 AM.
What Did I Do Instead?
Instead of staying in such a miserable state, I took a breath, sat down, and renegotiated how my day should be framed:
What Does My Calendar Say About Today?
I first looked at my Outlook.com Calendar and took note of all the hard-landscape events that I need to get to. None of the events in my calendar required the Internet, despite my first irrational thought that the day is ruined without it. I felt much better.
What Does My To-Do Lists Say About Today?
I looked at my to-do lists on Wunderlist next to see if any tasks had to be absolutely done today (there were a few) and how many of them required the Internet (a few of those few).
For those tasks that required the Internet, I figured I could finish them at a coffee shop or a library nearby my home. For the other tasks , it didn’t matter whether I have Internet or not. I asked myself if I had time to go somewhere for Internet (by checking my calendar), and found out that I did.
Negotiate With The Distraction
I let a personified Lacking-of-Internet know about my schedule and how its presence does not affect my day or my actions. Even if it did throw a wrench in some initial plans, it has no power over my plans; I get the final say in how my day will go. Somehow or another, what control it had disappeared.
Stop Fretting; Start Doing
Once I was comforted that I owned my day despite the initial distracting setback, I packed up my tools and began to work, trusting that my task system knew what it was doing, and feeling confident that I didn’t need the Internet working at home at all to be a productive person.
Distractions Are Only Distractions If You Give Them Power
Distractions, big and small, happen all the time in everyone’s life. Some of them can be plenty strong, and plenty hard to resist. However, if you can trust that a distraction is just that, and if you can trust something (like my schedule and my to-do lists, for example) to show you that the distraction has little if any power, you can push through and get what you need and want done.
How do others deal with distractions, and how do others negotiate with distraction to regain their power back? Let me know!