If we aren’t growing, then we are likely growing backward.
Do you ever find yourself first in line at a red light, waiting with your foot on the brake – your mind wandering and the car next to you puts their vehicle in reverse and backs up; just for a moment, there is a weird sensation that I’m moving forward. My panic is short-lived, but not before I’ve pressed down hard on the brake pedal.
Moments like this, as in so many things in life, is not what they seem to be.
Predictions by smart people are often really off the mark.
How can we know what it is, this new momentary distraction might save the world, and we are the one to do it, or more likely, it is just a distraction which will waste time and brain cells before we press extra hard on the brakes!
Distractions from focus have plagued me most of my working life – and my process to evolve the ‘how I keep track of things’ process from paper notes, lists, electronic tools: I’ve not moved the needle as much in all those many years as I have recently – not the first time I’ve made that boast. I keep improving the process as it works for me – and I’m always happy to share with others.
Short term urgency rarely converts to long term growth, revenue, and joy. Still, short terms urgency is heightened for us every time a device pings, a reminder pops up, or a whack of emails arrive.
I have looked at many time-management and mind-managing options – it doesn’t take long online to feel like being figuratively dragged down a rabbit-hole of things which lead to another distracting thing, then another, then another….
Two things have saved me countless distractions and lost time lately:
Phone on do not disturb
My in-box gets attention several times a day – far fewer than the hundreds of times I used to use it as a filing cabinet for unattended matters – something which drove me crazy and wasted oodles of time.
Now, when I look, this is what I do:
Delete the garbage, ‘mark as spam’ all spam, file the rest in one of two files
Those files are Parking Lot A (business and work), Parking Lot B
On this, I should credit Daniel Pink. It wasn’t his idea, but I get his Pinkcast newsletter every second week. I think he has an excellent formula. It stands out. Everything else in this world is daily, weekly, monthly, or some other familiar frequency. His is something I anticipate – often wondering if it is this Tuesday or next Tuesday – but I find myself anticipating in the way Pavlov’s dogs were always ready at mealtime.
But I digress.
Dan’s guest offered the idea. I tried it and now use this method with rare exceptions. Cell phone setting, DO NOT DISTURB, all the time. And ringer off, ALL THE TIME. I then identify clients, close friends, and creditors I want to hear from as FAVORITES. When they call, my phone vibrates. I never answer. The call goes directly to voice-mail, but then I can check and ring them right back. Everything else goes to voice-jail! Robo-calls never leave message; cold-callers never leave messages, thoughtful people do.
Suggestion: take great care with your voice-mail message – because now EVERY CALLER gets to it before they get to you: make them smile, chuckle, be brief, and set the stage for when they will hear back from you. If someone is calling you for the first time, they get to listen to your voice for the first time; remember, first impressions matter far more than we recognize. Best to be relaxed and cheerful when recoding it: be relaxed, listen to something funny while you are preparing – so the listener can ‘see you are smiling’. Rehearse a few times – this is really important.
Here is the script I use:
“Hi, and thanks for calling. You’ve reached the confidential voice-mail of Mark Kolke. Sorry I missed your call. I’m out saving clients from preventable poor decisions right now. Please leave your name, number, and tell me your problem – I’ll get back to you soon.”
THESE TWO TIPS have saved me hours of focus-distraction daily.