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Have you ever had a plan to get something done and then hours go by and you realize you’ve done nothing? You got distracted. We’ve all done it.
But, every time we get sidetracked, we give up our growth, our time, and our opportunities.
Our lives, our dreams, our very existence, can all be traded for distraction without our even meaning for it to happen if we are not intent on being intentional.
We need to learn how to control our days, instead of our days controlling us. In this episode, I’m going to help you do just that with these five strategies that helped me gain hours instead of losing them.
TRY THIS ACCOUNTABILITY HACK: TRACK AND GAMIFY
One day I was on the phone with my sister and I was telling her about how messy my room was. You guys, it was so bad. I’d been trying to clean it for a week, but I’d inevitably get sidetracked or on some tangent, or forget, or just didn’t feel like it.
It wasn’t happening, but it was driving me crazy. I didn’t like the way it felt and I really, really needed to get it under control. So I’m on the phone and then I decided I was going to set a timer for one hour. I told my sister to call me back in an hour and see how I’d done.
I hung up and I took a little video clip for good measure of my appalling room and bathroom and I sent it to her. One hour later I sent her a new video. This time my room was in perfect order. My bathroom was sparkling white.
All because of a little accountability.
Another thing I needed was staying accountable within my computer. I knew I was wasting time on my computer, but I didn’t actually know how bad it was. Unlike my messy room where I could see it with my own eyes and feel how it was affecting me. Listen, I know it’s not particularly fun, but we need to be brave enough to find out the truth about our own personal time. Many of us would rather just ignore it. We don’t wanna know how many hours our phone says we were on it last week.
We don’t want to know how much time we really wasted on Instagram. I chose to know. I reasoned that if I could see how much time I really was spending on Instagram, Facebook websites, emails, all the things, that it would help me to wake up.
So I installed Rescue Time. It’s an app that you install on your computer and it shows you where you compare to others. I became obsessed with making sure I was above average. Over the years I made a game and I just kept trying to see if I could keep myself more productive than the Rescue Time user averages.
That’s my first hack for you. Track and then gamify, staying ahead of distractions. Try to find a way to gamify and track so that you can be more in control of your time.
PLAN FOR SMALL BURSTS
I thrive under pressure and I bet in some form you do too. When you give me all the time to accomplish a task, I’m completely indecisive. I’m less creative and I’m just not at peak performance. We fill the space, right?
But when the pressure is on, I do so much better. Knowing this about me, I started recognizing that if I had large blocks of times for work, distractions came even more frequently because I would reason that I had time for them. But when I gave myself shorter burst of times, I stayed much more focused and my work was more creative as well. That’s why I love my timer.
And I’m going to encourage you to try it too.
ONE SCREEN AT A TIME
I am notorious for like 500 tabs being open at once, until my computer is dragging. Now I try really hard to keep projects tabbed in one window and then I minimize everything else. If I’m working on a blog post, if I’m working on a podcast, if I’m working on a client project, everything around the podcast research or the blog post research, or the client, they’re each tabbed in their own window.
And then I minimize everything except for the one thing that I’m working on. This really helps me to try to focus in and not get distracted.
CREATE MINI REWARDS FOR YOURSELF
Have I mentioned that I’m just basically an adult little kid? But I really am serious. This works. So give it a try.
If you wanna increase your results, you need to do first things first. AKA, I do the most important task first and then I give myself a little reward. That’s right. I’m totally using Pavlov’s law on myself and basically I reward good behavior. 45 minutes of working really hard gets me 15 minutes of scrolling on whatever I want.
I do this with everything in my life. Whatever I want always has to come as a reward for something else. If I wanna do a little DIY project, I tell myself that the house has to be clean first. If I wanna read a magazine, I decide that it’s my reward for finishing the laundry.
This pattern of mini rewards has really, really helped me to, first, be able to have those distractions, but also it helps me to stay more productive and I can have fun within boundaries.
PUT A BONUS STRUCTURE IN PLACE
Think about how you can give yourself a bonus, the same way that the CEO of a major company gets a bonus. If they reach their projections, there is a reward. What’s your bonus gonna be? What’s your bonus if you reach your projections, if you reach your goal.
I decided to attach my first designer handbag as my bonus for reaching a goal. I’ve also attached planning an overnight all by myself. (It’s every mom’s dream. Let’s just be honest). My rewards have been trips, special meals, girls nights, girls weekends, even putting huge chunks of cash toward all kinds of things. I mean, truly, all kinds of things.
Your bonus just needs to be something that excites you, that you get really, really fired up about. Set something really fun and crazy, and then promise me that you will not feel guilty when it’s time to say yes and make it happen for yourself.
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