How to kill distractions

Strategies for staying focused when it matters most

January 22, 2019

Main point: Killing distractions is hard, but achievers can kill distractions by focusing on the outcome they desire, which actively destroys other inputs through realizing what’s at stake.

You and I know we have the ability to be focused and attentive, yet it’s easy to get derailed from a feeling of progress. While a webpage is loading my computer screen, I can be tempted to check email or Facebook. If we’re in line at the grocery store, we can check in to see if we have any notifications on our phone.
If you are suffering, like me, with a sense of being pulled in a million different directions, even at the times you’re the only one in the room, here’s the deal: we aren’t tapping into our ability to CHOOSE focus.

Choosing focus

I know that this idea can sound super obvious and duh. But it’s about realizing how our brains work and then making sure we behave in a way that our brains are made for.

We are made to attend

The lizard brain creeping in…

Our amaglyla tells us that conflict, silence, or boredom is to be avoided. That’s why we reach for our phone or plug into a distraction — we don’t want to avoid the conflict that is at hand.

But we are flawed. The conflict that we’re avoiding isn’t as bad as we think it is. Seriously! It’s not. And even if it is pretty hairy, we can figure out our next move, even if that next move is to understand what we can’t control.

David Allen is famous for saying “you have to think harder than you think, but not as hard as you might think.” The idea here is that fear of conflict usually sabotages us, but we have the agency to remind ourselves that we aren’t being chased by a tiger. If you take a moment to just think a little bit harder and figure out that next step, you will not only get closer to achieving the desired result, you will also have a deeper sense of mental clarity and less stress.


Take a look at the things in your life that have been stagnant for some time.

  1. Ask: Why have you not been able to make any forward momentum on that item?Well because I am afraid of it taking forever to figure out — there’s so much I don’t know — I don’t want to fail — What if the same failure happens again like last time — What will people say or think?
  2. Determine: Is this your lizard brain speaking or your deliberate brain?
  3. Focus: Those reasons were most likely your lizard brain speaking. Is it possible for you to “finish your thinking” on this item for a few moments?
  4. Finish the thinking
    • Attend: Put your mind on the desired, not-yet outcome you’d like to achieve
    • Inhibit: What things are you not going to do to ensure you can focus? (INHIBIT DISTRACTIONS: Facebook, Email checking, Text messages, Notifications, etc)
    • Remember: What will achieving this outcome bring you long term? What are your motivations?

We have the ABILITY to be focused.

We can CHOOSE to be focused.

We can CHOOSE to eliminate the distraction and work on work that truly matters.

Whether you realize this or not, what you’re dealing with is an emotional situation — it’s important, emotional labor. Wherein you must identify what is distracting you and work to determine why you believe in any particular moment that other thing would be useful to you.

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