How to Overcome Distraction and Do Work that Matters
The first rule of doing work that matters, according to Seth Godin, is this: Go to work on a regular basis.
As someone on Twitter recently said, this is a no-brainer. So why do we not do it?
Because often, we go to the place where we work without actually going to work. In other words, we get distracted.
I struggle with distraction all the time. Every day, the Resistance rears its ugly, evil head and tries to allure me away from doing work that matters. I read this last night:
Art is hard. Selling is hard. Writing is hard. Making a difference is hard. When you’re doing hard work, getting rejected, failing, working it out — this is a dumb time to make situational decision about whether it’s time for a nap or a day off or a coffee break…
The first five years of my solo business, when the struggle seemed never-ending, I never missed a day, never took a nap…
Making a difference is hard, because it requires persistence. It requires real dedication. And that requires focus, something I’m not particularly — hey, look a bird!
You have an Enemy.
Call it the Devil or the Resistance or distraction. But it’s a real enemy, prowling around you, waiting for the right moment to strike. To devour you. To destroy the work that you’re trying to create.
Each day is a new day, and the temptations to slack off or procrastinate present themselves anew every day. And each time, the Resistance has yet another chance to defeat you (and me).
Every. Single Day. This battle never ends.
What’s the solution? I have a few practical tips for how to overcome distraction:
- Name the problem. You have an Adversary. You’re not inherently lazy, necessarily. Everyone gets distracted. Everyone needs an occasional course correction. The first step to slaying this dragon is recognizing the Resistance. But have hope: the very fact that you are facing Resistance means that you are probably doing work that matters.
- Take responsibility. You can help this problem. You can grow. (And so can I, I hope…) “The Devil made me do it” isn’t quite enough (unless you’re Anthony Hopkins in that recent, creepy movie about demon possession; then, maybe you have an argument).
- Show up. Do the work. There’s not much more to it. It’s hard and painful and if everyone did it, I wouldn’t have to be writing this post. Excuse yourself from the conversation, close the door, and dig in. It’ll feel good when you’re done. I promise.
- Work smarter, not harder. When we get distracted, we get frustrated and can browbeat ourselves. This is unproductive and self-defeating; this is what the Resistance wants you to do. Instead, do what Neil Fiore suggests: practice delayed gratification. Reward spurts of hard work (an hour or two) with a “distraction” (15 minutes of checking email).
How do you overcome distraction? What’s your “brass knuckles” of choice for giving a hefty blow to the Resistance? Share in the comments.