5 Practical Ways to Avoid Distractions and Increase Focus
By Craig Groeschel
As leaders, many of us feel like we have too much to do. While we have very real responsibilities, we can also waste time on distractions that don’t move us toward our goals and objectives.
Today, let’s talk about how to simplify your life and leadership by avoiding distractions and increasing your focus.
Here are five practical strategies I use to eliminate distractions and increase focus.
1. Start with your “not to-do” list.
In the early years of your leadership, you have to say yes to opportunities to grow in your leadership, earn credibility, and build trust.
But as you mature, you don’t grow with your yeses. You grow with your ability to say no.
So, to become better, more effective, and more focused, you must ruthlessly eliminate all time-wasting, non-productive, life-taking, soul-draining distractions.
Whenever you’re presented with an opportunity that doesn’t advance your end goal, learn the art of the polite decline. You don’t have to give a reason. “No” is a complete sentence.
There are few things as pointless as doing something well that shouldn’t be done at all!
2. Get your to-do list out of your head.
Writing everything down clears your mind and increases your focus. By recording it, you give yourself permission not to think about it until it’s time to do it.
Create a consistent system to record everything you need to do. It doesn’t matter how you record your to-do list, just do it the same way consistently.
I start off every morning by writing my top three priorities for the day on a small legal pad. Your system doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to work.
3. Break down your to-do list into actionable steps.
One way distractions manifest themselves is through inaction and indecisiveness. When we have a big project that overwhelms us or a complicated decision to make, we often procrastinate.
Procrastination is the thief of time.
So, instead of putting the whole project down on your to-do list as one item, simply put down your next step. If “create quarterly presentation” is the full task, add your first step of “pull data points” to your list.
As you accomplish these small steps, you’ll gain confidence and momentum. Before you know it, you’ll have completed the whole project!
You can read more about this concept in Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. I talk about why I love Getting Things Done a bit more here.
4. Prioritize what’s most important.
Often, we get caught up in urgent matters that require our immediate attention.
Just because a problem is urgent doesn’t mean it’s important. When you have a clear understanding of what’s important, you won’t get distracted by urgent-but-not-important tasks.
And yes, we need to handle some issues as they come up. But as often as possible, choose what’s important over what’s urgent.
If you feel frustrated, unfulfilled, dissatisfied, or discouraged, it’s almost certain your distractions are crowding out your values.
Avoid distractions and increase focus by prioritizing what’s most important.
As often as possible, choose what’s important over what’s urgent.