1 | 20 | Manage distractions and interruptions


Hi there! I'm Marian Knopp, the Online Business Systemizer at marianknopp.com.

The Productivity Tip of the Day™ is: Manage distractions and interruptions

This is the finale episode of the Productivity Tip of the Day and this is the most frequent asked question I get. When it comes to productivity everybody wants to know how can they manage their distractions, the interruptions in their life that keep them from getting things done and being their most productive selves. That's why I saved this one for last; the best for last.

I'm going to throw a whole bunch of bonus mini tips within this tip. Obviously the tip is to manage the distractions and interruptions, you have to take action on this. You actually have to do it. It's not something that just happens to you. This is something that you can also control and influence as well. And so, it is important that you recognize, that you have a responsibility and an ability to manage your distractions and interruptions. That you have control over that. I think a lot of people forget that you know they have control over their lives. That it's not just happening to them.

Once you've recognized that this is something you could control here are some ideas for how you can go about doing that. The first thing I'm going to say is that you need to have focus. We talked a lot about this in the first couple of episodes of the season where you are deciding what your desired results are. What is the purpose of your life, what are the outcomes that you want to have, what is it that you want to do, what is it you want to be productive in accomplishing? If you haven't figured that out, and a lot of people actually have not figured this out, there's no way that you're going to accomplish it because you're not focusing on it so it's easy to get distracted because what else is there to focus on but those distractions that come into your life?

And so you need to take your life in your own hands, make the decision of what you're doing here. What you're going to do with your work time, your personal time, your life, whatever it is and you're going to focus on accomplishing it. And that means thinking about that every single day. Looking at your desired result. Maybe you have one big goal and everything else fits underneath that or maybe you've got several in several different areas of your life. But the more you reflect on it, the more you're able to focus it so it's important to write it down. It's important to revisit that.

And then further more, we talked about next actions and creating a plan for how you're going to accomplish that goal. And if you don't have a clear plan in place you're going to get distracted because you don't know what you should be doing to get there. You're just hoping that what you're doing now is going to magically get you to your goal even though you haven't actually taken the time to plan it out. These are critical and we've talked about them throughout the season so if you need to revisit those episodes please do so. You need to have your goals in place and a plan in place. The reason you might get distracted is because you don't actually have something to focus on.

All right, the next thing, next little mini tip when it comes to distractions is limiting things. And these happen to be the most popular productivity tips out there. I don't talk about them a lot because I think they are a huge turnoff and I think they're said way too much. Everyone's like, "Oh, quite all your social media, quite Facebook, quit Instagram, quit Twitter. Turn off your TV and just do all the work that you need to do by yourself, alone in a corner closet." I don't know. That's what it feels like when they talk about these things.

But there is truth behind it and so that's why I'm going to bring it up. I'm not the person that's going to tell you to quit Facebook. I'm not going to be telling you to turn off all your devices and get stuff done because that may not be what will get you to your goal. You might need to use these tools. You might need to be connected to these things or these people. I'll never be able to tell you this is a bad thing, you should do it. I am going to tell you though, in this mini tip, some ideas for what you can do to limit. You don't have to. It may not be necessary for you based on your goals. But if you find yourself getting distracted and interrupted by these things, then absolutely, go ahead and take advantage of this mini tip. Don't engage in things that aren't going to help you.

The easiest one for me to talk about in this regard is TV because it is something that I have limited in my own life. I don't have cable. Sure, I stream TV with my husband on the weekends when we're having fun social time but we are not turning on the TV and having it influence our thoughts throughout the day or morning shows or whatever because that doesn't align with our goals. There's nothing that a news show is going to curate that's going to be relevant to the tasks that I have at hand. And I think a lot of people feel this social pressure that they need to be up to date on all the current events that are happening in the world and while that maybe true and maybe that is something that is important to what you're trying to accomplish in the world, that you need to be super informed about that stuff, TV is not going to be it for you.

TV is programming that's curated for a popular audience, it's not specific to you and your goals and your purpose. In this day and age we have the ability to create our own curated news. We can ... There are plenty of websites and programs out there that will tell you exactly what's happening in the exact frame that you want to be informed about, whether it's local news, regional news, state, international. If it's on a certain topic. If you only want to know about things that have to do with traffic because you commute or weather because you're outside, whatever it is, there is the ability to curate your own self without getting bombarded with all these things that somebody else has made the decision that you should know about. That may not be true.

Or, getting inundated with all the commercials that happen on live TV. Or just like random little fun stuff like, "Here's some holiday recipes for the weekends." That might be nice to know but is it important for you to know for what you're trying to do with your goals? Probably not. And so, I would definitely be mindful of that and consider turning off the TV and finding another way to inform yourself.

One last thing I want to say on this TV tip is that a lot of people say, "Well, I just have it on while I'm getting ready. I just have it on while I'm cooking breakfast and getting ready to leave or begin the day so it's really not that big a deal." But it is because it is going into your mind and consuming your thoughts and influencing actions that you may not even realize. I know that if I am watching anything related to food, because I love food, I will start craving that food that is being shown. And I don't even recognize the connection right away sometimes. And so if that happens with just that one topic for me, it's going to happen on all the topics that you are directly in connection with. And I recognize that some of you work in places where this is not an option for you to limit, however if it is within your control, try it out, limit it and focus on those things that you've already decided are important for you to focus on.

That's my little TV rant but the same rant can go for apps on your phone, games that you might play. I'm not saying that you should have no fun in your life or that you shouldn't have a social life. Absolutely not. And let's go ahead and just dive into the next category of tips, which is disciplining yourself. For example, you all know I am on social media. I'm on Facebook, I'm on Instagram, I'm on SnapChat. I'm currently on Twitter. Don't know if I'll stay there but I did it for this experiment. I am not going to be the one that tells you that you shouldn't have social media but especially for me and my life, it is important for me to be connected to other people when I work at home.

I am by myself right now, with my cats, and so it's really important for me to connect with other humans. I think you would agree. I use social media as it was probably intended for, socializing. And so it's not so much a matter of me cutting those things out so I can be super productive. That's actually not going to be productive for me. It's important for me to take breaks. It's important for me to take care of myself and my mental health and connect with people who are wiser than me, that can actually help me get to the goals that I want to achieve. And so, it won't be a matter of limiting my use but actually having the discipline to only use those things at certain times.

That's going back to when we were talking about our calendar and when we were talking about our workflow and how we go about our day, how we're going to discipline ourselves not to get sucked into that notification feed or the news feed that you have on your social media app. The two things that I will say in terms of discipline with social media, because this is a big one for people, is first off, turn off all your notifications. Just turn them all off. You don't need them. You're still using the apps, absolutely, but you do not need to know when people have liked your post or commented on your post or have messaged you. I promise you, it's not important. You'll get to them when you will because you're still using it, you're just not going to get to it the moment it happens. The very second it happens.

Turn off all your notifications and what I like to say to people who are like, "What if there's an emergency?" If there's an emergency, you should have an emergency line. You should choose one way that people will contact you in an emergency. For me, I say if there's an emergency you better be calling me. Don't text me, call me and tell me what the emergency is. Don't try to make me interpret it in text. If you must text because that's the only way then text but contact me. They have my personal number. They know how to contact me in an emergency. And guess what, I have that turned on.

With the occasion where I need to silence my phone because I'm in a meeting or I'm working with a client, then absolutely I will have that on silent but I'll check it almost immediately after that call is over or that meeting is over. I will turn my sound back on so that I am connected to anybody that needs to reach me in an emergency. But I'm not going to have Facebook or Instagram or SnapChat notifications and I'm also going to turn off those red badges. Yes, even the red badges. Even though it's silent. It's not going to give me a pop up. If I turn on my phone and it's not time for me to dive into my apps, I just need to do something else on it and I see that red number, I'm going to be curious. I'm going to be curious. I'm going to want to tap in, see what that's all about. Don't. Just don't.

You should have a workflow in place, boundaries in place where you know you will get to check it. You will get to go to inbox zero in your notifications of your social media and you shouldn't let those notifications or badges or whatever decide when that is. With that said, of course all of you are probably thinking, "Well, Marian, when do you do this then if you're not getting all the notifications? When does it happen?" Well, my trick is what I like to call the AM/PM rule for social media. And the reason why I say the AM/PM rule is because there are two apps that I currently use that have a 24 hour cycle, which for those of you who don't know, SnapChat and Instagram stories will expire after 24 hours.

And so, if I want to be super informed by the people that I choose to follow, going back to limitation, I limit the people that I'm following, I limit the people who can be on my feed, I choose who I'm actually getting notifications from. And remember, when I'm saying notifications, I don't mean the notifications that are popping up on my phone or the badges or anything. I'm saying when I actually open the app what that little number's going to be when I'm actually engaging in that content.

And so, what was I saying, 24 hour news cycle, so yeah, if I check something in the a.m., I'll check it also in the p.m. and then I am guaranteed that I won't miss anything in that 24 hours, and I'm only checking social media twice. Now some people only check it once. Some people only check it once a week and kudos to them because that's how they need to operate, but for me, I need to be able to check these notifications and I need to be able to connect with other people because I'm by myself. I'm working at home and so it's important that I still am able to connect with those people and have those notifications in my life. You have to choose what's going to work for you based on your goals and the things that you need to achieve in your life.

The last mini tip I have for you on this finale episode is to remember what we've talked about in the season, to write things down into your inbox instead of going down a rabbit hole. We talked about how you want to write things down so that you don't forget them. As you're going about your day how you have different ideas and things. However, you also need to write things down so that you don't get distracted in that moment. You yourself are a distraction sometimes. When you're going about your day and you're like, "Oh, I wonder what this is all about?" This happens to me a lot with tools because I love productivity and I love getting things done and so I love exploring tools. And I'll see somebody say something about some tool that I haven't heard of before that I want to try out and I will be tempted to just open that next tab and go down a research rabbit hole about this thing or this event or this person or whatever it is.

And I would encourage you to remember that you should write this down instead and process it and be in a different frame of mind when you're processing that inbox to decide, "Okay, is this something I need to explore now? When would it be best done in grand workflow of my life? Do I need to prioritize this so I actually don't look at it for awhile or a certain day?" For example, a lot of the exploration and fun research that I like to do is actually done on the weekend because I can let time slip away. It's not my workday so I can let time slip away and Google whatever I feel like Googling and so I'll actually batch those tasks, which in itself is super productive.

All right, so those are a bunch of mini tips. I don't know how many there were. I feel like there was five to seven mini tips within this tip. I hope you share these with a friend. These are the most requested tips that people ask me about, "How do I stay on task?" It's multifaceted, multilayered, hopefully you saw that.

This is the end of the summer's Productivity Tip of the Day series so please leave a review and let me know what you thought of it so that I can improve it for the next season.

Finally, I'll be doing a special live bonus episode of the Productivity Tip of the Day on Tuesday, July 16th at 7 p.m. Eastern time, 4 p.m. Pacific time. Tune in for a deep dive into lessons learned from producing the show as a Facebook Live, podcast, YouTube channel and blog. I'll be going into the good, the bad, the ugly and I'll also answer any questions you have. If you can't join me live, you can submit your questions ahead of time on the Facebook live post that is at the top of my Facebook page. You can go, check it out at https://www.facebook.com/workflowwonder.

I hope to see you all then. I know this was a much longer episode than normal but hopefully you realize it was packed with a ton of value and I can't wait to hear your response.

See you then. Bye.

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