Unexpected Distractions

There many ways we can avoid distractions in our daily activities. With some planning and discipline, we can:

  • break down larger objectives into weekly or daily activities,
  • time-block, including setting specific times for replying to emails and phone messages,
  • get the rest we need so we can be mentally sharper during the day.

But what about those distractions we never see coming?

This past Sunday the fastest runners in the world lined up to race the 100m at the Olympic track. Their feet were in the blocks, and the announcer had just called “set,” when, totally unexpectedly, a bottle, thrown from the stands, bounced onto the track. Many of the runners were so intently focused on what they were doing they didn’t even notice. American Justin Gatlin said he wasn’t sure what it was, but he knew something happened behind him.

What did he do? He could have turned around or even just allowed himself to mentally focus on what happened rather than the race ahead of him. Instead, he went on to run the 100m faster than he ever had before and earn himself a bronze medal, just behind phenomenon Usain Bolt and his training partner, Johan Blake.

He’s been quoted in the media saying, “You just have to block it out and go out there and do what you got to do. You can’t complain about that.” Super response and impressive results!

Even in our day to day activities, things happen we can’t control. When unexpected distractions land in your path, you have a choice, often made in a split second, to give them your attention, energy, and time, or to stay focused on the task at hand.

If you have already decided how you will use your time during specific blocks of the day, it is much easier to maintain your focus and know that you will be able to give someone or something your attention at your next break (ideally less than one hour away), if it warrants it.

If it does warrant a change in your concentration, and you have your day’s timetable already blocked out, you’ll know what you missed doing and need to make up later. Having a plan in place lets you proactively focus on your priorities rather than reactively jumping around in response to someone else’s desire for urgency.

Take a leaf from the runners’ book and keep focused on what you need to do, even when things get crazy around you.

 


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