I love this concept and recently came across this blog post I wrote 3 years ago. I thought it was super relevant and wanted to share it with you again.
This summer my boys and I saw the movie "UP." (If you missed it, be sure you rent it. It's a great family movie). In the movie, the villain equips his dogs with devices that allow them to talk. One of our favorite scenes 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 it has become sort of an inside joke in our family. Whenever someone's attention seems to be wandering (as in "are you listening to me?"), the speaker will say "Squirrel!". It's a great way to bring the listener's focus back in a humorous way (and we always crack up!)
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 (I got new photos taken in June and am still discovering a few places where they need to be replaced). As I'm locating the new photo to upload to the page, my Outlook 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. This is simple (you can do it in the "Tools" and then "Options" tab in Outlook) so you're only receiving 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 the calendar and tasks in Outlook, I find having this visual piece of paper on my desk keeps me on track each day.
- 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 to keep you conscious of how much time has passed. You'll be amazed at how fast an hour 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.
So, tell us what tools you use to keep yourself focused. I'd love to know.
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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.