You know it when you see it. You can probably spot it a mile away, coming down the hall, disguised as a pleasant conversation, an innocent question, or innocuous request. But it’s not harmless, it’s not innocent, it’s a weapon of mass distraction. Regardless, if you see it coming or not, you are unable to stop it. Before you know it, your day is derailed, you are helping someone else with their work, or have committed to another event that you didn’t intend to commit to. What happened? Are you a push-over, a people-pleaser, an over achiever (note, I did not say high achiever)? Are you not in control of your time, your day, your words, and your life?
I’m not the only one that this has happened to (thankfully, I have learned how take out distractions years ago). Yet it’s going to happen to you again and again if you don’t learn how to combat weapons of mass distraction. Every person in your organization (yourself included), really any person in your life, is hit with weapons of mass distraction daily, sometimes hourly. If you don’t learn how to defuse these weapons you can spin out of control and before you know it you will be fulfilling other people’s needs and agenda, and living someone else’s life altogether. And that is no way to live.
Here are 5 things to do to combat weapons of mass distraction:
- GET CLEAR ON YOUR VISION AND PRIORITIES FOR YOUR LIFE —> This is your North Star, your bull’s eye, your big why. What are you working towards and why? What do you ultimately want your life to look like in all categories (spiritual, physical, financial, social, family, and professional)? Knowing that is the first step. So what’s your vision? I think that people get lost when they hear this vision concept because it’s thrown around so much. But it doesn’t have to be complex. Your vision is a simple as what you want out of life. Think about the end of the next year, five years, 10 years and start working backwards. Do you want financial freedom? How much is that for you? Is it $100k in passive income, $10 million in passive income? The number doesn’t matter – what matters is that you know your number and you are taking steps to set up your life for this outcome. Remember, you can’t just throw out a vision/goal of $1 million in passive income and expect for it to just show up. You can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. To achieve your vision it will require massive shifts in your habits – how you spend, how you save, your investments, how much you need to NET, that’s a vision. Don’t get lost in the word, get lost in what you want in each category of your life and then get a plan in place to get after it. Without this clear vision and plan when distractions show up, we engage with them, and then get frustrated as to why we aren’t where we want to be. Start with your vision. Now.
- SAY NO —> If you are getting requests and invites that do not align with your ultimate life goals, just say no! No one is making you accept these offers. They all seem fantastic in the moment, but every thing you say yes to that doesn’t align with your goals, means you are saying no to your future. Here’s an example: When you say no to lead generation for new clients and instead are helping a fellow colleague with the new team software, you’re not in alignment with your goals. Tell yourself what you will, you’re being helpful, you don’t want to be seen as a jerk, you want them to succeed. All of those may be true, but what about your success, your future? You have to help yourself first before you can help others. Be selfish. There is nothing wrong with that. Because the end result of making yourself successful means that you can ultimately help more people.
- MAKE YOURSELF LESS AVAILABLE —> These open door policies are putting a damper on productivity. I don’t care if you are the CEO, the assistant, the sales associate, the cleaning staff, or the marketing director, your time is valuable. You have a job to do, for the company, yes, but ultimately what you do for the company should fulfill your goals and objectives too. When your office or cubicle is a revolving door how much work are you actually getting done? When you say yes, allow yourself to be interrupted and distracted constantly, you are devaluing your time. “Close” your door and schedule time for distractions. This can look like a 30 minute block of time where you walk around the office and catch up with your staff. Perhaps you schedule “office hours” once a week where your team can stop by to chat, share a story, or ask for your advice. Regularly scheduled team meetings also cut down on the random questions and requests. Get standing meetings on your calendar that you can plan for and plan around. Often times open door policies are used by staff to simply distract themselves. They are procrastinating and looking for a distraction and your open door is an open invitation to waste their time and yours. When you put these boundaries in place, you would be surprised how the requests to “pick your brain” and ask questions drastically decrease. In fact, you’ll actually be training your team to be more resourceful and self-sufficient because instead of coming to you for the answer, they will find it on their own. Role model the behavior that your time is valuable and that discipline equals freedom and your team members will follow. Increased productivity and more self-sufficiency for all!
- SHARE YOUR GOALS —> Share your personal and professional goals with everyone. When you decline that happy hour or company picnic or when you say no to a speaking engagement, people will know why. It doesn’t align with your end game and that’s okay. People will question you, talk about you, try to discredit you or derail you (more weapons of mass distraction!), but that says far more about their personality and insecurities than it does about you. Stay the course. The more you share your goals and dreams for the future the more people will get used to them. And if they don’t like it, then they are just not your people. However, eventually a very interesting thing occurs – people who “get” what you are doing will want to be a part of it and the haters will disappear into the background (until they come around asking for something). Harsh? Maybe, but I’ve seen it happen! Don’t get sucked in. Keep your eye on the prize, keep sharing your goals, and saying no to anyone and anything that doesn’t support them.
- SHOW RESPECT FOR OTHERS’ TIME —> If you want people to respect your time and limit the weapons of mass distraction that they throw your way, don’t deploy weapons of mass distraction on others! Everyone’s time is valuable in one way or another. Recognize that your emergency, isn’t necessarily someone else’s emergency. Plan ahead. Give people lead time, clear direction, and accurate deadlines. Show up to meetings on time, stick to the agenda and finish on time (early if possible!). When you respect your time, respect other people’s time, they will respect yours and maybe, just maybe, begin to respect their own time as well.
How do weapons of mass distraction show up in your life? What are you doing to combat them? What can you do today to eliminate a weapon of mass distraction from your life?