When something’s caused a major distraction and put you off course, how do you get back on track? I show you how in this practical and enlightening post!
Another evening had come and there I sat on the sofa, tired and resigned for the night. I was not physically tired. This was the kind of tiredness you get when you can’t seem to muster up the energy to do those things that you know are important – but at the same time, it scares you a little to start.
So there I sat, TV remote in hand, feeling guilty that again, another day had come and gone and I got very little done. I had busied myself with small insignificant tasks that day because, in truth, I didn’t know where to start. It had been a week since my family (who were visiting) had gone back to their homes and I still hadn’t done any work on my blog. In fact, I did nothing…for an entire month!!
And although I anticipated a drop in my productivity when my family came to visit, I didn’t factor in stopping altogether!
How it started
Things kind of went off kilter when my husband had a tax account emergency he wanted me to deal with. I’m also kind of like his personal assistant and I record his business income and expenses so that they’re ready for his accountant to deal with.
When this emergency came up, he asked me to drop everything so that I could get it done quicker.
I dropped everything.
And as it happened, I didn’t pick it back up!
I also became very distracted with my relatives who wanted to spend their summer with us (in our house). Which meant a lot of extra people (in not a lot of extra space!).
Don’t get me wrong! I LOVE my family. And I think that’s why it was very easy to just lay everything else down.
However, I found it hard to process my thoughts and also work (as I moved my computer up to my bedroom during this period along with several other bits and pieces!). But having my computer in my bedroom meant that I couldn’t do any work in the early hours of the morning (which is when I write). That’s because my husband is still fast asleep at 5 AM (how dare he!!).
One week rolled into the next and before I knew it, a whole month had gone by with nothing getting done.
The biggest struggle was my mind
The most difficult thing to deal with was not the lack of productivity that happens after a major distraction. But the niggling thoughts of failure that ensue after a long period of ‘not being on the ball’.
I began to wonder whether blogging was really for me. I mean, how could I let a whole month slide by and have nothing to show for it?
And I began to question whether I really even wanted to pursue it at all? Perhaps it’s not really ‘me’.
Can you relate?
Have you ever been through a period where you just drifted through a season and wondered where all that time went? Or thought that your lack of progress in an area meant that you should really be doing something else altogether?
Overcoming your mind
Getting a major distraction can really disorient you from your purpose. It can cause a fog to descend on your original goals and ambitions to the point where you question why you even had those goals in the first place. That’s why one of the hardest aspects of starting again after a major distraction is overcoming your own mind.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with questioning whether you still want to achieve your goals. In fact, I try to do this every quarter.
But it’s another thing altogether to question your goals when you’re in a defeatist mindset. Which is what a major distraction can cause.
Because of the lack of progress you’ve made, you feel defeated or overwhelmed by the task ahead. And in this mindset, the natural instinct is to quit.
Quitting is not necessarily a bad thing. But it should be done from a positive mindset and an attitude of gratitude.
For example, someone running a marathon might decide to quit halfway through. But there’s a big difference quitting with the attitude of “I’m really proud I ran a half marathon!” than with the attitude of “I’ll never make it to the finish, it’s hopeless. I better quit.”. Do you see the difference?
The person quitting with a positive attitude will be motivated to try again and possibly go farther next time or take up another, equally challenging pursuit. However, the person quitting with a defeatist mindset will not be highly motivated to run another marathon again and may give up challenging sports altogether.
And this small change in our perspective can have a massive effect! When you quit in an overwhelmed state of mind, you’re basically making a decision with your emotions.
This isn’t good because our emotions change daily.
Trust the ‘sane’ you
I once heard a lady say that if you make a To Do list the night before and you wake up and you don’t want to the tasks on your list – don’t listen to that feeling. Trust the list you made the day before when you were sane and feeling well. Trust the “you” who looked at all the tasks for your week and decided, in your rational mind, that these were the tasks you needed to complete today.
Because the truth is that we are emotional and often wayward beings (especially us women!). And allowing our emotions to dictate our goals will completely sabotage our productivity.
So how did I start again after a major distraction?
- First off, it helps if you can remove the distraction. Whatever it is that’s derailing you needs to be removed or you need to remove yourself from the situation or area. For me, the catalyst to start again after a major distraction happened when my relatives headed to the airport and said goodbye. That was a stark reminder for me to get back on the ball and get things into perspective.
If I had gotten things into perspective sooner, I would have realised that I could take myself out of the situation and left the kids with my husband in the evening and gone to a cafe or someplace to do some work. But, to quote a favourite cartoon scene from The Simpsons, “I wasn’t usin’ ma’brain!!”.
- Secondly, you need to tell yourself that today is a new day and you can begin today. Often we beat ourselves up for letting things go neglected for a long time. But the truth is that today is a new day. Our past failures or obstacles don’t dictate our futures or even our present moments. They’re just what happened in the past. And we can (and should) learn from them. Remember, the biggest obstacle in starting again can often be overcoming your own mind. So this point is quite a big deal. And my third point is:
- Don’t procrastinate!! I just decided to do one thing that I knew I needed to do. Write. And I didn’t even give myself a topic. I didn’t try to brainstorm or plan out what I was going to write or get bogged down with what adjectives would work best. All of that would have led me to procrastinate even further. But in order to start, you need to stop procrastinating and put aside all the valid (and not so valid) excuses! Instead, just get the ball rolling as soon as you can by doing the first thing that comes to your mind. Planning can often be the disguise of procrastination. So when you want to come out of a slump, I don’t recommend planning, but rather starting something (anything!).
When you want to start again after a major distraction, the hardest thing to do is to simply START.
Is this you?
If you’ve been putting off a task or goal for some time, just start. Do something. The smallest, easiest thing you can think of.
Don’t even worry about writing a To Do list for now. Don’t worry about the dishes waiting in the sink. Or the Weetabix encrusted on the breakfast table.
Just get the engines turning. Don’t spend one more minute procrastinating! Do something. And START.
When you start making progress, you can begin to get into a rhythm. Then you can draw up a To Do list or brainstorm if you like. And like the motion of a train, although it may seem a little sluggish and slow at the beginning – it’s PROGRESS! And soon you’ll be moving along fine!
But first, you must JUST START!
And in order to help you start, download my Daily Game Plan printable. It’ll help you focus in on the things that really matter so that you can get more (important) things done!
You can begin (again) today! xx