Let’s be honest. We all get distracted. And it’s always a source of frustration when you realize the day is over and you still have a long list of things that didn’t get accomplished. With so many things screaming for our attention, how do we stay focused on the things we need to do? I’m glad you asked! You’ve got to know your enemy!! Identify him and create a strategy to beat him at his own game! So, let’s talk about how to identify triggers that distract us and create boundaries for avoiding distractions. Let’s talk about how to avoid distractions!
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Warning: Distractions Will Train You to Feel Like a Failure
I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I waste time. I’m not always productive. And sometimes, I’m downright lazy. Although this feels terrible to admit, I believe everyone has the same story. So hopefully I’m not alone.
I’m not talking about rest or breaks in my day. Those are absolutely necessary and I feel zero guilt about those. Instead, I’m talking about actual rebellion to the systems and routines I created for myself. You know, an outright childish fit I throw that says, “I’m not gonna do it and you can’t make me.”
Even worse, sometimes I pretend that there isn’t a list of things I need to do. As if I can actually trick my brain into forgetting my responsibilities so I can scroll through social media or talk too long on the phone or whatever my guilty pleasure is at that moment.
This denial doesn’t make my responsibilities go away. Certainly, no one comes and magically washes my dishes, picks up my groceries, or puts away the laundry just because I chose not to do them. Consequently, all of these things still have to be done. It’s just that I now get to add them to my already over-packed tomorrow.
I’ve officially let today rob from tomorrow. And, I really hate it when I do this. I mean, today’s me doesn’t hate it. But tomorrow’s me gets really frustrated at today’s me and usually shames her. Tomorrow’s me is pretty mean about it and says really harsh things. And the more it happens, the more today’s me feels inept. And then this repeatedly creeps into today’s me’s subconscious and today’s me starts believing these things.
I start believing that I’m a failure and that things will never change. What’s worse, I start giving up hope.
STOP THE MADNESS!!!
Don’t Let Distractions Win
We are only failures when we stop trying; when we quit. So, I refuse to quit. More importantly, I want you to refuse to quit. And stop listening to all of the terrible things you say about yourself. You are talking yourself into becoming a person that you would never choose to be. Enough is enough.
Side Note: you’re probably doing this in a lot of areas of your life; your weight, your style, your money, your job, even your kids. I bet you even say these things out loud to your friends in an attempt to make fun of yourself so you are the one pointing out the obvious failures in your life before anyone else does. This is an incredibly bad habit. And, a lot of people do it. In short, you are training your brain to believe these things are true of you. Like I said, stop the madness!
“We are only failures when we stop trying; when we quit.”
“Distractions keep you from being the person you want to be.”
Identify Your Distraction Triggers
When I recognized this vicious cycle in my life, I decided to start looking for my triggers. I wanted to know if there was some event that preceded my derailment. In other words, I believed if I could just figure out what it was, I could recognize when it happened and keep it from happening in the future.
Boy oh boy! I didn’t just discover one thing. I discovered a list of things. And, this list of things keeps me from being as productive as I want to be. They keep me from fulfilling my obligations to others and myself. And they keep me from reaching my goals. Ultimately, this list keeps me from being the person I want to be.
The problem is that I like some of the things on this list. And, I don’t want to eliminate them entirely. But, I don’t want them to have the control over me that they currently do. I want to be in control of me.
I needed some rules. Some boundaries to help with avoiding distractions.
Here are the triggers I identified that distracted me.
- Social media
- Unnecessary interruptions
- Things beyond my control
- Negative emotion
- Lack of vision/boredom
This is brutal honesty at its best, folks. And because I think many people struggle with these same triggers, I’m going to cover them individually.
Curb Your Chaos
Life is full of chaos. And in the right environment, chaos can be fun, like riding rapids down a river. The riverbed channels the water to flow around curves and rocks and gives you the time of your life. If that same water were to spill outside of its riverbed, it could bring utter devastation to those who live nearby. It could destroy their homes.
I was determined not to allow chaos to ruin my home. It also occurred to me that anything I allowed to distract me actually robbed me (and my family) of time to do the things I would rather be doing. Things like family fun days or board game nights with the kids.
It was like a thief in the night. Except, I was the one opening the door and inviting it in. I needed to curb my chaos with rules and boundaries for avoiding distractions.
How much time do you spend between all of your social media accounts? I’m not trying to convince you that these are bad platforms. But they are designed to create a captive audience and keep you engaged because they sell ad space to companies. Their business plan is to make money by stealing your time. And you don’t get paid for that time!
Studies show that we are addicted to the “likes” we get on our posts. A little hit of dopamine charges through our bodies with each person who clicks that button.
Have you ever tried to quit cold turkey? It’s hard!! You think about it constantly. Clearly, we are addicted. It drives me crazy that someone else has control over me. No thank you.
The first thing I did was turn off all notifications. I decided to be fully present in the real world. Whoever I’m with at the moment gets my full attention. Since I’ve done this, I started noticing how distracted people are by the notifications on their phones. There is an obvious difference in having an engaging conversation with someone who is fully paying attention to you and one who is distracted every time their phone lights up. I wanted to be an engaged person, not a distracted one.
And, since I didn’t want to give up social media, I defined acceptable times for it. Once I did this, I stopped reading every little thing. I only looked at what I was really interested in. I’m sure I miss lots of stuff. But, do I really need to know everything? I broke the addiction!
If you use social media, I would encourage you to create your own boundaries for avoiding distractions in this area.
Who doesn’t love TV? It’s my guilty pleasure. This one is easy to create rules and boundaries for avoiding distractions. If you’re watching TV, try to do something else at the same time; maybe some floor exercises, fold laundry, or whatever else you can do to multitask.
Also, think about times where the TV needs to stay off. Dinner time is my favorite time to turn the TV off. When I was raising my kids, I loved dinner time. Everyone was sitting at the table together. No TV and absolutely no phones. Leave them somewhere else. Dinner time was family time.
I don’t always multitask when I’m watching TV. Sometimes I’m just unwinding at the end of the day after my Evening Routine is done. And there is no shame in that.
This is different from the necessary interruptions we all have.
I’m talking about unnecessary interruptions. Let’s talk about the phone. You pay for your phone. It should be for your convenience, not for the convenience of everyone who has your number. You have voicemail. Right? You can call them back when it’s convenient for you. In short, don’t let the phone interrupt what you have chosen to give your focus to. It can wait.
I have the same rules for texts. I don’t run to look at every text. I’ll answer it when I come to a stopping point. People in my life know this about me. They don’t expect immediate answers from me. This isn’t to say that I never have text or phone conversations. I do.
The point is that if I’m doing something I need to be focused on, I don’t allow the phone to distract my focus.
There are exceptions to this rule for me. If my phone rings twice in a row, I’ll check it. It might be an emergency. That becomes a necessary interruption. I also have special ring and text tones for my family. When my kids were small and they weren’t with me, I paid close attention to the phone. Frankly, you just never know what could happen.
Think about what unnecessary interruptions are in your life and create some healthy boundaries for avoiding distractions too.
Things Beyond Your Control
How is this a trigger for distraction? Listing this as a trigger for distraction gave me permission to exit conversations and stop thinking about anything that falls into this category.
I just don’t need to have an opinion about everything. And, I don’t need to worry about things beyond my control.
These things take up brain space that I could be using to focus on areas in my life that matter. Things that will make a difference in my life. Things I have control or influence over.
“I have no control over that” was a great way to let my brain move past many things that otherwise could have distracted me.
This is a HUGE topic that probably deserves an individual post. But for now, let me say that life is hard. People are oftentimes disappointing. And, you are going to have negative emotions. But life is also good and healthy relationships are extremely rewarding.
When I have a negative emotion, my brain starts down the path of… “you need a mental break” or “you can’t handle today” or some other way to get me to check out of the plan I created for successful days. And, it usually involves comfort food, the couch, and the remote.
So, I needed rules in this area as well.
I rarely watch the news
TV news is usually a constant supply of negativity that brings me down. So, I take control of what I “hear” by reading the news stories that matter to me. To clarify, I’ve taken control back from the TV newscaster.
I limit articles I read
I don’t read articles that say… You’re gonna cry when you read/see this. WHAT? Why are people clicking on these things? No thank you. For me, it’s the same thing as someone saying, “This stinks. Smell it.” Hard pass. I understand that it’s sometimes a feel-good cry. But I’ll pass. You can create your own boundaries for avoiding distractions. But that’s one of mine.
You need boundaries for toxic people too
There may be people you need to limit contact with. To be clear, I’m not implying that you don’t help your friends and family. But if there is someone who is just perpetually negative or someone who never takes the advice others are giving them to change their situation, you might need a healthy boundary here. Additionally, you may need to hide some of your friends and family on Facebook. Watch out for people who are divisive or who take and never give. Create boundaries for avoiding distractions that are best for your life.
Let me also say that mental health problems are real. And I, in no way, want to minimize the legitimacy of them. I hope if this applies to you that you are getting help in this area. In addition, you can still be a successful home manager with the proper tools you need for support.
Hello. I’m Kim and I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’ve spent most of my life wondering why people acted like this was a bad thing. Who wants their work to be sloppy? Is that really someone’s goal?
It wasn’t long ago until I realized the harm in perfection. I realized that this was a trigger for distraction in my life.
The need to have everything perfect is crippling. It takes an incredible amount of time to accomplish everything you do. And the ripple effect is exhausting.
First, my thinking that I actually could obtain perfection was certainly arrogant. It’s not realistic.
Second, trying to live up to what I thought everyone expected of me, created resentment in me for them. Why did they have this expectation of me that they didn’t have for others? They didn’t! I just thought they did.
Third, being a perfectionist often kept me from starting projects. If I didn’t have time to do the whole thing and do it “right,” I wouldn’t do it at all.
It’s easy to say that the boundary in this area is simply “don’t be a perfectionist.” That’s cute. Also, probably not possible if you’re truly a perfectionist. Admittedly, I still have work to do in this area.
My boundary is that I give myself defined amounts of time for projects. When time runs out, I’m done. That’s it. Obviously, this can’t apply to everything in life. But it certainly helps. It keeps me from redoing what’s already done. It gives me permission to say “that’s good enough.”
I also have to remind myself that I’m no less valuable or any less of a person just because everything I do isn’t perfect. So for all you perfectionists out there, remember this one. It’s a lifesaver!
Lack of Vision
If you lack vision in what you’re trying to accomplish, you will get bored and stop.
What do you want for your home, for your family, and for yourself? Once you define what this is, write it down in your planner. If you become bored, you’ll procrastinate. I did. Everyone does. Remember to stay focused on what your vision is and why you’re doing it.
My boundary to protect against this trigger is simply this. When I notice that I’m bored, I revisit my vision. Am I committed to this vision or does the vision need some adjusting? Sometimes I’m just having to do a boring task and I need to press on and just complete it. But sometimes I may be doing something that just doesn’t matter to me.
Time To Get Started On Your List
Now it’s time for you to pick up that planner and write down your list of distractions. Keep it handy. You may add to it in the coming days, weeks, or months. When you identify a trigger, create a boundary for it. And, WRITE IT DOWN so you can review your notes from time to time. It’s easy to forget.
You need to hold yourself accountable for the rules you create. These aren’t arbitrary rules created by your boss. This is a path to success that you’ve created. You can do this!
You’re going to face distractions EVERY SINGLE DAY. They are out there waiting for your attention. But remember why you’re doing this in the first place. Your sanity is important. Your family is important. Keep going. The best is yet to come!
If you’re following the Home Management Baby Steps, it’s time for Baby Step Four. Let’s head to the kitchen and Create a Meal Planning Template
What are some of your distractions? Do you have some I didn’t cover here? Leave your comments below.