I am a jack of all trades; it has long been the biggest distraction in my life. I have a very curious mind and I’m fairly good at a lot of things. Some people like to label that a ‘generalist,’ because it sounds better.
The reality is that being ‘good’ at a lot of things means I have to be vigilant not to chase shiny new things all of the time. Spreading my focus too much distracts me from being successful.
In the past, when I was part of a team, I often volunteered to take on too much, or, things were handed to me because I had the skill to do them.
Social Media has exacerbated the number of pitfalls and distractions in my work life; being connected to so many people often opens too many doors. There are groups and causes that fascinate me, but in order to get anything done, I’ve had to learn how to say no, again and again, to people asking for help, to interesting blog posts and events… to lots and lots of things.
Anthony Iannarino wrote a stunningly accurate post about how these distractions add up to you simply working part time. I am blessed that I work from a home office and have very few distractions other than the ones I create for myself. The 15 open tabs syndrome is my greatest challenge to focus; social media, which is an arena I often work in, is a time and energy suck.
Really successful people are incredibly focused on what they are good at and where they are going. As my career shifted and became more focused on Content Creation, having quiet, targeted blocks of time became absolutely essential.
In order to become more focused, I had to admit to exactly how unfocused I was. I had to look at the many social media interactions I was allowing to seep into my work day and pull me away from creating.
Stepping away from the constant connectivity, learning to not look at messages and emails until I’m ready to, has been a challenge and it doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve had to wean myself from the distractions; I’ve gone so far as to create a calendar with hard times for when I’m able to look away from my work.
Learning to say no was one of the most career-changing abilities I added to my toolkit. It has transformed my business and given me freedom to choose the right clients since I’m no longer running around helping everyone who asked and taking every client who said “yes.” And as with many habits, the more I practice it, the easier it gets.
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