Pretty much everyone understands the concept of “chasing that squirrel.” It was made famous several years ago in the movie “UP.” In the movie, the villain equips his dogs with devices that allow them to talk. The most famous scene in the movie comes just as one of the dogs is explaining that his master has given him this collar and now he can talk. While the humans look at the three talking dogs somewhat stunned, one of the dogs yells “Squirrel” and all the rest of the dogs immediately turn their attention at once and shout, “Where?”
It’s a hilarious moment that’s repeated a few times in the movie and has become slang for “pay attention” whenever someone’s attention seems to be wandering or is distracted by something totally unrelated to what they’re supposed to be focused on.
I was thinking about this yesterday as I was working. It’s hard to stay focused in the virtual world. I’ll be working on a project in my shopping cart and then discover that there’s a typo I need to fix on my website (which I accessed for my original project). Then while I’m on the page fixing the typo, I’ll notice that my photo needs to be updated. As I’m locating the new photo to upload to the page, my email will message me that I have a new e-mail and I’ll flash over to read it. Before I know it, I’ve completely forgotten where I started. “Squirrel!”
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? If so, let me recommend a few ideas that have really supported me in keeping the distractions to a minimum so I can keep my focus on one project at a time:
- Turn off the instant notification on your e-mail and shut off “push” notifications in your phone’s email checker. This is simple and once you do it you’ll only receive e-mails when you’re ready to process them.
- Create a master list on Sunday evening of all of your projects for the week (I call mine a Master Manifestation list). List your goals for the week and then break down your actions by day (Monday – Friday). Even though I use an electronic calendar, I find having this visual piece of paper on my desk keeps me on track each day. I use a paper calendar from http://plannerpads.com.
- Schedule out blocks of time on your schedule for certain tasks (and stick to it). An easy way to stay disciplined about doing this? Pretend someone is paying you by the hour to work on whatever the project is upon which you’re currently working. If you don’t keep track of your time, you won’t get paid.
- Use an egg timer or set an hourly alarm on your phone to keep you conscious of how much time has passed. You’ll be amazed at how fast an hour by goes when you stay conscious of the passing time.
I can’t guarantee that these tools will completely eliminate the lack of focus you sometimes feel as you work, but I can promise that the more you become aware of the squirrel chasing you’re doing, the less you’ll be tempted to do it.
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Julie Anne Jones is a direct sales corporate consultant, coach, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific systems, language, and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read her weekly blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.