My #1 Distraction Buster

Have you figured out a way to eliminate other people as distractions,  only to be derailed by the distractions in your own head?  Here’s the advice I gave my newest client.

 

Dear SystemSavvy,

I find that when I’m working on a project – I’m easily distracted.  But not by other people, by other ideas in my own head!!  Do you have any suggestions? 

Sincerely,

 

Ms. Easily Distracted

 

Dear Ms. Distracted,

Isn’t it frustrating to be working on a project – only to be distracted by an idea for another project!  You can build structure around eliminating other distractions, but it’s much harder to eliminate the distractions in our own head!

My favorite technique for staying on task when we are distracted by our own thoughts is to use a Parking Lot.  A parking lot is piece of paper where you write down (park!) every idea that comes into your head, as soon as it enters your head.  (You can also use one Post -It note per idea if you prefer.) 

While you are working on a task, and an unrelated thought pops into your head, jot it down in the parking lot.  Stay focused on the task at hand.  Once you finish, then you can look at all the ideas in the parking lot and decide on the next task you want to complete.

Here are some everyday occurrences where you can apply this strategy:

  • Internet – Instead of opening a new browser each time an idea pops into your head, jot the ideas down, finish the current online task, then open a tab for one of the tasks you identified on the parking lot.
  • Project – While working on a project you think of an idea for another project.  Instead of continuing to think about this project, write down your thoughts in the parking lot, and continue working on the initial idea.
  • Meeting – During a meeting or presentation, place any questions, strategy suggestions, and other important (but unrelated) ideas into the parking lot until the appropriate time.  Questions may be answered throughout the talk and if not, you have captured them for review at the end.  Also, when the meeting is focused on big picture ideas and you a have a great implementation idea, putting it into the parking lot allows you to keep the meeting on track and remember your ideas.
  • Webinars – Since webinars are often “anonymous” it’s easier to multi-task while listening.  The speaker says something that reminds you that you need to pay your cell phone bill, so you open a browser to pay the bill and stop listening to the speaker.  Instead, park it – and listen!

The next time you are feeling distracted by the thoughts in your own head, I encourage you to utilize a parking lot.  I even jot ideas down during every day conversations.  I don’t want to interrupt the person I’m speaking with, but I also want to make sure I add this new thought when appropriate!

Sincerely,

 

SystemSavvy

 

If you find that you are struggling to overcome distractions (both internal and external) – I’d love to assist.  I pride myself in creating and adapting solutions for all of my clients.  If you are trying to reach your next goal and are struggling to create change let’s chat.  Sign up for a No Obligation Find More Time Strategy Session. During this session you will gain clarity on your goals, uncover the hidden obstacles to your success, and leave energized to design the life of your dreams.  You are guaranteed to have at least one Ah-Ha moment and actionable idea that will catapult your plan to success.  What do you have to lose?

 

Did this help?  Leave a comment below! 

40 Comments

  1. Annemarie September 18, 2013 at 8:53 AM - Reply

    There are great tip, I suffer from this problem I get distracted too easily and then I end up finishing nothing. Thanks for the tips I will be trying a few!
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    • Lisa Mallis September 18, 2013 at 9:43 AM - Reply

      Annemarie –

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Please return and let me know about your success when implementing the parking lot.

      Lisa
      Lisa Mallis recently posted…My #1 Distraction BusterMy Profile

  2. Linda Ursin
    Twitter:
    September 18, 2013 at 8:56 AM - Reply

    That’s a great solution Lisa. Thanks 🙂
    Linda Ursin recently posted…How to ease overwhelm in 3 easy stepsMy Profile

  3. Kristen from The Road to Domestication September 18, 2013 at 9:01 AM - Reply

    Oh, I resemble these remarks LOL Thank you!
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    • Lisa Mallis September 18, 2013 at 9:41 AM - Reply

      Kristen –

      I’m giggling now! 🙂 Thanks for the humor this morning! Best of luck on your journey to NOT resemble those remarks!

      Lisa
      Lisa Mallis recently posted…My #1 Distraction BusterMy Profile

  4. Michelle Liew September 18, 2013 at 9:02 AM - Reply

    Great advice Lisa! Difficult to eliminate these folks as distractions, thanks for the solution there!
    Michelle Liew recently posted…Dogs and bonesMy Profile

  5. Jacqueline Jordan September 18, 2013 at 2:35 PM - Reply

    I was not distracted one time while listening to your presentation. You are a very engaging speaker and the video was just the right length. I really like the idea of a “parking lot” as I can get very distracted and shoot off in different directions and an hour later remember what I had started with, so this tip will really help me. One thing I do is have a folder for ideas, so when I have a tab open that I want to look into more detail later, I just add it to my online folder.
    Jacqueline Jordan recently posted…Jewelry Giveaway for September: Blue Turkey Turquoise and “Sapphire” Colored Gemstone Beads Earrings and Bracelet SetMy Profile

    • Lisa Mallis September 19, 2013 at 9:49 AM - Reply

      Jacqueline –

      Thanks for the kudos! I love the idea of a folder for ideas that you can slip thoughts into! Perfect! I keep one for blogs to follow, vacation ideas, etc.

      Lisa
      Lisa Mallis recently posted…My #1 Distraction BusterMy Profile

  6. Keri Kight
    Twitter:
    September 18, 2013 at 3:45 PM - Reply

    Lisa, I felt like you were speaking right to me. 😉
    I’m known for having too many tabs open, which is not good for browser speed, let alone my sanity. I actually have post-it notes right next to me and I’ll be using them today and see if this method helps me out.
    Thanks for the tip!
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    • Lisa Mallis September 19, 2013 at 9:48 AM - Reply

      Hi Keri –

      Were you able to implement the post-it notes to eliminate distractions yesterday? Please share your success (or challenge!!)

      Lisa
      Lisa Mallis recently posted…My #1 Distraction BusterMy Profile

  7. Lorellemac
    Twitter:
    September 18, 2013 at 9:29 PM - Reply

    This advice Lisa is so spot on. I’m been trying to make notes of ideas, information pages and more as I work, then would spend time hunting for the right “list” in my notebook and deciphering the scribble. I’ve now started to use Evernote where both my ipad and macbook are linked. This way I can easily add to notes I’ve “parked” there.

    • Lisa Mallis September 19, 2013 at 9:40 AM - Reply

      Lorellemac –

      I’m thrilled you’ve found a solution that works well for you! Evernote is a great app . . . keeps everything you want in one place. What’s your favorite strategy with Evernote?

      Lisa
      Lisa Mallis recently posted…My #1 Distraction BusterMy Profile

      • Lorelle Mac
        Twitter:
        September 19, 2013 at 4:43 PM - Reply

        My current strategy with evernote Lisa is to limit the number of notes where possible. One for blog ideas, one with url links to sites I want to go back to, note for individual idea when I’ve started writing bullet points for it. My next step will be to get it a bit more organised, then make sure I delete as needed or shift to a specific folder elsewhere

        • Lisa Mallis September 19, 2013 at 7:37 PM - Reply

          Awesome strategy, Lorelle! I also use it for books I want to read, grocery list, sizes for Christmas gifts, and favorite restaurants when on vacation to name a few.

          Lisa
          Lisa Mallis recently posted…My #1 Distraction BusterMy Profile

  8. julie September 18, 2013 at 9:42 PM - Reply

    Evernote is my go to tool for “parking” all of my thoughts…and it’s free! It’s been a lifesaver for me since I’m always on the go and tend to lose paper all of the time.
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    • Lisa Mallis September 19, 2013 at 9:32 AM - Reply

      Julie –

      I love Evernote also! I’m a tactile learner . . . so I really do my best thinking with paper and pencil . . . but for my more techie clients I recommend Evernote. What’s your favorite feature?

      Lisa
      Lisa Mallis recently posted…My #1 Distraction BusterMy Profile

  9. jenniferlovettherbranson September 18, 2013 at 10:12 PM - Reply

    Great post! I’m the WORST about distractions if I don’t turn off my internet…it’s how I got into Blog Formatting LOL! But no kidding, if I want to get any writing done, I have to turn it off. Self Control, the ironically named app I use, turns it off for a set period of time and really helps my productivity. Thanks for the great tips!
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    • Lisa Mallis September 19, 2013 at 9:22 AM - Reply

      So glad you found an app that works for you! I find that I write my blog posts in word, then copy and paste them onto my website to keep me focused and off the internet! I’m going to check out Self Control – the app I usually recommend is KeepMeOut.com, but this one sounds good also!

      Lisa
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  10. Margaret September 19, 2013 at 12:03 AM - Reply

    LOl…js had a vision of me with sticky notes all over me and the desk! My mind just dance with ideals and they seem to lay dormant until I start to do something. I have never noticed before recently how tough it is for me to stay on task. I am utilizing that parking lot…half the time when in a conversation I never get all my questions answered b/c I forget them by time the other person gets done talking…lol thanks for this post. Visiting from Blog Formatting , going back up and connect with you via social media,
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    • Lisa Mallis September 19, 2013 at 7:56 AM - Reply

      Margaret –

      Thanks for the giggle . . . I’m seeing you with sticky notes all over you today! Isn’t it amazing how your mind has all these ideas that just pop out as soon as you focus on something else? I have some of my best brainstorms when I’m in the shower! I’m wishing you tons of luck implementing the parking lot – stop back and update us on your progress!

      Lisa
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  11. lisa
    Twitter:
    September 19, 2013 at 1:49 AM - Reply

    This was perfect. I have a new idea every five minutes. The opening web browsers solution is awesome. I have so many open sometimes I don’t remember what i had it open for! Will be using these tips

    • Lisa Mallis September 19, 2013 at 7:53 AM - Reply

      Lisa –

      I’m so glad you found value in this activity! Not only does having a number of web browsers open distract us, it cuts down our internet speed. Check back in and let me know how it goes!

      Lisa
      Lisa Mallis recently posted…My #1 Distraction BusterMy Profile

  12. Jen Hale
    Twitter:
    September 21, 2013 at 3:35 AM - Reply

    I definitely found value in this post. I am often in meetings and thinking of other things that I think we can do to improve something or add value. I now have post it notes next to the computer for when that happens. Thanks for sharing. Stopping by from Blog Formatting.
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    • Lisa Mallis September 21, 2013 at 1:56 PM - Reply

      Jen

      I’m so glad the parking lot technique will help you! It’s one of my favorites for exactly the reason you mentioned! Stop back and let me know how it goes!

      lisa
      Lisa Mallis recently posted…My #1 Distraction BusterMy Profile

  13. Delia @ Blog Formatting
    Twitter:
    September 21, 2013 at 10:58 PM - Reply

    I recognize myself so much in the description, Lisa 🙂 And what a great idea with the parking lot thingy. I am wondering if you have suggestions how to organize these ideas – decide what to keep and what not. Because I can easily get 10 per day, LOL!

    Maybe an idea for a future post? 🙂
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  14. […] (Wondering what a parking lot is?  Check out the previous post!) […]

  15. Emily Wilke
    Twitter:
    September 28, 2013 at 1:00 PM - Reply

    You totally called me on my browser window situation. I laughed out loud because my husband will look at my computer and remark that I have 16 windows open. So this is a great idea to just get those ideas out of your head and to move on. Thanks!
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    • Lisa Mallis September 30, 2013 at 6:26 PM - Reply

      Emily –

      So thrilled this post spoke to you! Would you please share your success? What’s is your work day like now that you are using the parking lot?

      Lisa
      Lisa Mallis recently posted…Sometimes All It Takes Is One TweakMy Profile

  16. Kathryn Dilligard October 8, 2013 at 9:52 AM - Reply

    Those are great tips. I for one find the internet the biggest distraction.
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  17. Janet Barclay
    Twitter:
    April 10, 2014 at 1:37 PM - Reply

    My Parking Lot is my To Do List software. If it’s something I have to do, I’ll add it as a Task. If it’s just something I might like to do but it’s not a current priority, I’ll add it as an Idea. Right now there isn’t a mobile version of it, so if I think of something while I’m away from my desk, I’ll create a Reminder in my phone if it’s something quick; otherwise, I’ll send an email to myself.
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    • Lisa Mallis April 12, 2014 at 8:29 AM - Reply

      Janet-

      Great examples! Thanks so much for sharing – not only your original solution, but how you adapt it when you are “on the go”. A appreciate your comment.

      Lisa
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  18. John aka OrganizingLA
    Twitter:
    May 16, 2014 at 8:04 PM - Reply

    I found your blog through the Professional Organizers blog carnival. Great topic, and a great technique on the parking lot. My favorite took for organizing whatever is still the Black and Red notebook from Staples or Office Depot. Works for me. I have tried software and my phone and writing down things seems to be the easiest way for me to keep ideas captured. Again, great conversation.

    John aka OrganizingLA
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    • Lisa Mallis May 17, 2014 at 1:43 PM - Reply

      I appreciate your comment John! I also like to write things down – and FINALLY – after some additional education around learning styles and processing modalities – I realize this is because I’m a tactile learning! I do appreciate a good app on my phone, however it’s still pencil and paper that provides the most value for me!

      Lisa
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  19. […] as they pop into your head.  Then, once you finish the task at hand, go back to the ideas in your parking lot and decide what to do with them.  From a time management and choice management stand point, this […]

  20. […] specific websites a distraction? Try using a parking lot. As soon as something pops into your head that could distract your focus from the online task at […]

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