Easily Distracted? Read this or…ooh a bird

Ever catch yourself writing something on your laptop, while talking on the phone and the television is on in the background?  Yeah, that’s been me a couple of times, in fact I just turned off the television to write this post.  For me to have all those things going on at once is a little humorous considering I’m the guy who likes to run without music because I believe it distracts me from really paying attention to my body and my surroundings.  It’s a safety and efficiency issue, if I’m distracted then I’m not doing my best.
If you are a youth minister, you know exactly what I’m talking about, because our lives are filled with distractions from:
EVERYONE – Our pastors, coworkers, volunteers, teenagers, their parents, youtube, twitter, cell phones and Starbucks.  I’m sure that list could go on, but what my point is whether we like it or not we will be distracted, in fact before you finish reading this post you will be distracted at least once.  Now, I’m not trying to play the victim card, some distractions I welcome, but they aren’t always good.  So how are we supposed to handle the distractions?

  • Step 1: Turn It Off – I don’t care how multitalented you are, if you can watch television and write at the same time it doesn’t necessarily mean you can put out quality content.  Images, voices, smells they all affect us because we were created with 5 senses (some of us have 6…I think they made a movie about it) which are constantly being attacked.  If there is something in our environment that’s unnecessary we need to turn it off or get rid of it.
  • Step 2: Write It Down – When you have an agenda you have a path that will help you head towards your goal if a tangent should arise.  I love agendas because even if I’m not running the meeting it gives me time to plan and prepare for each part of the meeting.  An unprepared meeting is chaos and a chaotic meeting is destructive.
  • Step 3: Limit Your Limits – At what point are you pushed over the edge?  When we are stressed, tired, or excited we let emotions take over.  I have a tendency to get really excited (and it can sound angry) about small things…then it turns into a distraction and next thing I know is I’m wondering what caused the tangent.  We need to be aware of the triggers that set us off and find a way to lose them.  We also need to be aware of what happens before we get really excited or mad and develop a method that’s going to help us cool down.
  • Step 4: Build An Entourage – Find people to speak the truth to you so that when they see you getting distracted they can say, “Dude…focus.”  These people can’t be the ones who distract you so make sure they are more Type A then you.
  • Step 5: Create A Focused Environment – If your office is messy or if you don’t have systems, you’ll find yourself distracted because nothing is in order.  When you have an organizational system you won’t waste time trying to find that document.  When you have a to do list you won’t waste time thinking of what to do next. 

Whether you work in ministry or not you will get distracted.  Whether it’s caused by temptation or our own reluctance to tackle something difficult we need to create environments and relationships that will build efficiency and focus.  It’s something that might take work to start up, but in the end it’ll help you flow.
What is it that distracts you?
What steps do you take to focus on what’s importnat?

Now that you are done reading this you can turn on the television or go back to listening to music.