When You Are Distracted

This is a message about giving oneself some grace and having empathy for others when they get temporarily distracted by something life has thrown at them.

I’ve been distracted for the past few weeks. Does this happen to you?

I can give you “good” reasons for being distracted. Life has thrown me a curve ball. But the reasons don’t take away the fact that I have been distracted, or that my distraction is hindering results. Reasons or results; we cannot have both.

And yet, this is not a message about “how to never be distracted.” It’s not a guilt trip or a lecture. Nor is it a plea for you to always be productive.

This message is especially for those of you who are high achievers. Most leaders are!

When you are distracted, give yourself some grace. Prioritize, rejuvenate, then return for even better results.

Distraction & calendar chaos caused by life’s curve balls

We have strategic objectives we aim to realize, shorter-term goals we aim to achieve, and projects we want to complete. Often there is no tangible deadline, but we still have a rough deadline in mind, and we know these things needs to be completed to maintain momentum for our business or career.

And then—life throws us a curve ball. At first, our priorities might remain the same, but we just don’t have the mental capacity to handle everything. Then, the curve ball might create new priorities in your life, due to clearer or more urgent deadlines, and calendar chaos ensues. Meetings and to-dos get shifted to tomorrow, next week, next month, delegated or dropped.

What do you do when distraction and changing priorities cause calendar chaos and loss of momentum toward your objectives?

My guess is you kick yourself for the loss in momentum, then try to power through and do it all. Unfortunately, powering through when distracted often leads to mistakes and kicks do not lead to better results. Stop.

When you are distracted:

Consider your current state of mind.

For example, you may feel concerned that a loss of momentum toward your objectives is going to harm your future well-being. Right now, what is needed most from you is to prioritize what is most important and urgent, and what you have the capacity to handle—and then give yourself a break. (In my case, my father’s needs take priority after my mother’s recent passing). For the future, make a note to always allow for contingencies.

When someone you are counting on is distracted:

In this message I’m addressing distraction caused by life’s curve balls, and not distractions created by some social FOMO (fear of missing out) or attention disorder. With this in mind, when someone you are counting on is distracted by one of life’s curve balls, your best approach is empathy.

If you’ve not yet been hit by a curve ball, then at least get good at noticing what others are going through. Have empathy and make sure others feel safe to share with you during this time.

Your best next step

For your “Your 1 Best Next Step,” remind yourself that you deserve grace when life’s curve balls cause distraction and calendar chaos. Stop kicking yourself.

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