Master the Distractions: The Quickest Solution to Gain Focus Now

Visting the Sound NewZealand

Distractions Are Not a Disorder!

Ah distractions! The running theme of our era. The nemesis of our age. The unintentional jerk away from our focus on task at hand to something that has no business showing up on our daily agenda. Whatever the distraction may be, we give in. We go willingly. We don’t even think twice about what we are leaving behind when distraction calls our name.

Distractions are notoriously fun, or else why would we become puppets to their every whim? Is it simply because they feed our inner desire for instant gratification? Is it because we feel helpless as they pull us like a magnet into the direction that we have no intention going at 9:30am when all our work and responsibility is piling up and deadlines are looming not too far behind?

But it can seem hopeless to master – we even get distracted from our distractions. With the advent of social media, iPhones, iPads, text messaging, on-demand instant entertainment, or heck, just Google, can someone please tell us how we are supposed to focus on anything at all when distractions take up so much time and attention?!?

Disclaimer: If you wish to blame your lack of focus or short attention span on some fancy new-age acronym like ADD or ADHD or a variation of that, this blog post is not for you. In fact, none of my blog posts are ;)!

I am not here to make excuses for why you get distracted. It is human. It is normal. It is fun. But it is not a freaking disorder so stop calling it that. Get over it. You can change your behavior with the right intentions as long as you have a willing heart and a functioning brain. Period.

It’s really quite simple. Not easy, but simple. Like everything else in life, if you decide you can make this change from distracted to focused, then you shall and if you decide you can’t, well, then you won’t.

So, having probably ruffled a few feathers with that one – sorry, that is really not my intention but I need to be forward with you – I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but my productivity has more than quadrupled in the last year and this is the type of thing I can measure in direct income not just productivity for the heck of it, plus I continue to raise the bar on it, so I am doing something right even though I still love my distractions.

And I want to share the thought process that has helped me gain this level of focus with you today. May it be useful to you.

How to Gain Focus with 2 Critical Questions

You get distracted for one major and quite disturbing reason and pay attention to this one:
What you are currently doing is neither important nor urgent enough to us.

If you want to change this, your task at hand must be both important and urgent TO YOU. Not to someone else, but to you. Until you can get this right, you won’t be able to focus naturally on anything. Believe me, I have tried and fake focus is worse than no focus at all. I’d take distractions over fake forced focus any day of the week.

Beware though as you ask these 2 questions:
Is what I am doing important enough to me?
Is what I am doing urgent enough to me?

One caveat from this exercise: you may realize that oh dears, what you are doing really is not all that important to you after all?

And that’s not a happy discovery but it’s really necessary. But I know it’s not fun and I know how that can make you feel. I’ve been there. The answers to these questions can snowball into a whole life of change if you really listen to yourself.

In fact, those realizations are how I started to change my life, first by changing my stupid job to an important one where what I do is as important to me as the air I breathe. That changed my focus dramatically. Then I changed my social life, my habits, my hobbies, my routines, and slowly, I gain more focus in each area because I made what I do both important and urgent to ME, first and foremost.

So don’t get caught up in doing things for the sake of doing things. Don’t be too busy to stop and ask yourself before every task and every project and every responsibility in your life: Is this important enough to me? Is it urgent enough to me?

It bears clarifying that if something is important and urgent to you, it does not make you self-centered. You can care about someone else and that can be the important and urgent thing to you. You can care about your work which helps improve lives and that can be the important and urgent thing to you. You can care about your bills so that paying them will mean you are now available to serve others with your time and peace of mind. So on and so forth.

So please don’t get all mixed up in the terminology, because clarity is key here and the true answers to those questions will lead you to gain natural focus at the task at hand. Distractions will have no power over you when what you do is both important and urgent to you. So is it?

What is Important and Urgent to You?

Ask yourself the question every single time a distraction beckons your attention. Ask these two simple but hard questions and get to those answers, so you can start to see the patterns that keep you from getting anything done.

Every time you get distracted, you learn an invaluable lesson about yourself. You can follow these patterns over the course of a week or a month, and test it by replacing the task at hand with something important and urgent, and then measure your attention span. You might just surprise yourself!

If you want to learn the confidence and self-esteem to respect what’s important and urgent to you, and to empower yourself to overcome distractions so you can replace it with laser sharp focus, watch the quick video on the FREE 21-Step Confidence Building Series and grab it:

Get Confident in 21 Easy Steps

  • Coach Comeback

    ah distractions! Yes, you said it right on. We love them. We hate them.

    I will be posting these two questions on my computer screen as daily reminders.

    Or, I used to have a program a long time ago that would pop up little reminders like that every so many minutes. I wonder if you know what it is.

    I am embarrassed to think that probably 60% of my day is spent on task that are neither important or urgent. =-( Now lets see how this week turns out armed with my new power questions. I could certainly use a quadruple increase in productivity as well! You Rock Farnoosh!

    • Farnoosh

      Hello Coach Comeback. Let me know if the questions work. I really feel that it not only jolts us out of these distractions but also reminds us what’s really important and how are we spending our hours and our days. Good luck and keep me posted. Let’s for now double your productivity, my friend. Alright? :)

  • Coach Comeback

    DEAL! =-) I have some new material I started reading this weekend and I am totally loving it! You are going to start seeing some big changes from me very soon.

    I just started a “Best of the Web” section on my blog….. Just found today’s new addition 😉

    • Farnoosh

      Saw that :) thank you so much, Coach Comeback!

  • Pingback: Quadruple your productivity with these 2 questions that streamline productivity - Coach Comeback()

  • Sandra / Always Well Within

    Hi Farnoosh,

    I’m working with increasing my ability to focus in this period right now so these two essential questions really come in handy. Thank you! I believe they go to the crux of the matter and can make all the difference in the world. I’m not surprised that you have quadrupled your productivity in the last year. These are powerful questions and I am following your lead.

    I disagree with you about the challenge of ADHD/ADD. Science shows us that adults with ADHD (and post traumatic stress, for that matter) have changes in the executive function of their brain, which make it more difficult for them to concentrate, prioritize, manage time, and this alteration also creates gaps in working memory. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for people with these conditions to change and improve. In fact, strategies like this can really help. It is said that 90% of adults with ADHD are undiagnosed. My heart goes out to people with these challenges because it’s not an easy place to live a life on overwhelm.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Sandra, thanks so much for stopping over. I am glad the questions are going to help you.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on ADHD/ADD. We’re definitely on far ends of the spectrum on that and I respect your opinion but still don’t believe it is a disorder just because doctors decide to call it as such. Kids who are diagnosed as such are undisciplined and high on sugar and don’t have enough cardio activity. They do *NOT* need to be medicated. Does this disorder cause a chemical imbalance in the brain? In my experience, I have heard people use it as a crutch = “Oh I have ADHD – I obviously can’t pay attention!!” ????? “You’re kidding me right?” (That’s how I want to react). Anyway, I really believe it’s a “condition” that is 100% completely curable with changes in diet, attitude, discipline, intention, focus, and full accountability for making choices in life that are aligned to one’s values and no excuses at all. And none of those are easy. They are a pain and they take hard effort – I’ve had my fair share of struggle with them but they are certainly not a disorder …. that’s of course just my opinion and probably not a popular one in this realm 😉

      • Coach Comeback

        You beat me to it Farnoosh! You are NOT alone in your opinion!

        We come up with excuses (as a society) for everything rather than look for solutions. Meaning, too much emphasis is spent on labeling “why” something happened more than “how can we fix it”.

        Another example if for people who are overweight. They will say ridicules things like “My parents are big so I will be big” or “It’s my glycemic index” or genetic so there is nothing I can do about it. Better go get a lap band! INSANITY I SAY…. PURE INSANITY!

        • Farnoosh

          The logic is crazy, I know, Coach Comeback, and I also see what Sandra says even though I just have a hard time to have compassion for those who can help their situation and who have brought it about … I know that health is a great example and listen, I helped my own husband lose 100 pounds over the course of a few years. I certainly loved him but I didn’t accept him the way he was and in this situation, I am very proud to say that 😉 And now, he’s happier too….

  • Clay

    That’s a great way to gain focus! But even if what we are doing isn’t really important or urgent, can’t we also consider that allowing ourselves to get distracted is sometimes necessary to keep our balance? A small dose of “useless” distraction can be very healthy too 😉

    • Farnoosh

      Great question – time to change what we are doing or think about it differently if we can’t change it, or plan to change it at some point in the future if it really isn’t important/urgent and we can’t think about a way to see it as such. Distractions are not *BAD* :) They just need to get in line, that’s all…. they are totally fun and yes, healthy too to some extent. Your comment here distracted me from a project so there. You’re right it was fun to reply.

  • Maxwell Ivey

    Hi Farnoosh; thanks for another excellent post. sometimes the key to solving a problem is learning to look at the problem from a different prospective. I have noticed that I’ve been more easily distracted since the gastric surgery. I’ve had less energy and been less focussed. I’ve decided to approach this by improving the level of my distractions reading good inspirational books and catching up on blog posts and podcasts from my friends. Hopefully, things will improve when I’m finally back on solid foods. thanks again and take care, max

    • Farnoosh

      Hi dear Max, you are going through all my recent posts and podcasts, love it. So glad this is helpful to you. First I hope that you heal completely and quickly from your surgery – sending you lots of healing thoughts, my dear. Stay inspired. Our bodies are amazing machines and if you truly believe you can heal and recover and be back on schedule on your timetable, you can do it. Your mind is very powerful, don’t forget and all the best, Max.

      • Maxwell Ivey

        Hi Farnoosh; Thanks for the kind words. I saved some of your emails so i would have them to catch up on when i felt like it. I’m still short of energy, but by all expectations; I’m healing well. one more week of purees and then i can start adding in some solid foods again. smile I did just close the sale of a mall carousel. It means this year’s sales are already twice that of any previous year with the winter months being prime time for equipment sales in the amusement industry. I will continue to use your two word montra to focus and motivate myself. thanks again and take care, max

  • Matthew

    Farnoosh, I think this could have been a very good article WITHOUT attacking people with ADD/ADHD.

    • Farnoosh

      Matthew, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I was not attacking people so much as attacking ADD/ADHD which I don’t believe is what it is made out to be. It is a way to disempower us and I am disgusted by those efforts, even if it’s from the medical community. We just have different opinions. Nonetheless, thank you for your comment.

      • Matthew

        Thanks Farnoosh. I like your work but I find your stance on this at odds with so much of what you otherwise do and say.

        Whether ADD/ADHD is a condition or not isn’t a matter of opinion – any more than are depression or schizophrenia. It’s a matter of science and neuro-chemistry.

        I agree with you that it is exacerbated by poor parenting, a poor diet, a lack of exercise and a society in which we are swamped by distractions, and that some people use it as an excuse. As a new father to this list I’d also add a lack of sleep and stress as triggers.

        The trouble with all these environmental factors (which we all face from time to time) is that they cause confusion and lead to the conclusion that, “If I can push through these things, then everyone should be able to with the right diet/attitude/focus/self-motivating questions”. Of course you can. You don’t have ADD/ADHD!

        On a personal note I’d say that when I was diagnosed it was deeply empowering, not disempowering. It explained so much of my life and what I thought were deep character flaws I am now learning to see as gifts.

        For me, distraction and difficulty maintaining attention were only a small part of ADD. Physically, the clutter in my head, the ringing in my ears, the constant fidgeting all stopped. I’m now a better businessman, a better husband, and a better father.

        • Farnoosh

          Hi Matthew, thanks for your continued engagement on this conversation. My stance is my stance on this, and I won’t apologize for it. I disagree with you: ADD/ADHD is not proven to be a disease like cancer and just because doctors love to give drugs to fix it does not make it a sickness or illness or a condition that cannot be healed naturally.

          I am glad that you have found a way to live a better life. In my experience, I see ADD/ADHD used to medicate kids who can’t “sit still” and give adults excuses when they can’t focus on their work.

          I get distracted JUST AS MUCH, thank you! I have to work hard at doing what I do and being successful just as much as the “ADD/ADHD” person too, how would you know I don’t? Because my beliefs say that I can create my own reality with self-discipline, responsibility and focus and I do. Of course, I could be labeled by a hundred shrinks and doctors to have a hundred conditions I am sure if I went in to get “diagnosed” but I don’t …. I simply do not give those excuses a power in my life. Others do. To each their own.

          Oh and the pushing through with the right attitude and focus does work if you do it with believing it and nothing else, but just like I don’t choose to believe in ADD/ADHD, you may choose not to believe that the other stuff works. And so we get what we choose to believe.