Distractions Speak Louder Than Words

DistractionsJim Court: You’re not a permanent part of her life. You’re a distraction.

Lloyd Dobler: I’m the distraction that’s going with her to England, sir.

~ John Mahoney and John Cusack in Say Anything

Personal distractions are a permanent part of your life. They will always be with you.

I’m not talking about interruptions. Those aren’t going away either. Here, I’m talking about those leisure activities that some consider distractions.

As an entrepreneur, you may feel you need to shake them. Abandon them. Get as far away from them as you can.

The gurus say so. You know the ones I mean. The self-appointed grand poobahs of startup, who say there’s no way you can be successful if you choose leisure – like watching TV, going out with friends, or sleeping.

I Bet You Know What’s Coming…

Guess what, they’re wrong. At least partially wrong. Unfortunately, a lot of gurus use condescension to get their point across. They make you feel like you’re a listless slug if you watch some TV or like to play with your Wii. Or that you’re not serious about your business if you choose to go out with friends.

There’s a big difference between giving up distractions, and managing distractions. One is hard, the other is, well, less hard. And just talking about how you need to get rid of them just makes matters worse.

Now don’t get me wrong. You’re never going to get anywhere if you come home from work and watch 4 hours of TV every day, and then try to squeeze in some business stuff before going to bed.

But I think you’re mature enough to understand the difference between wasting time and leisure. Heck, you’re going to be running a business. You should be able to handle managing your distractions.

Conscious Distractions

Managing personal distractions is like managing any other part of your business. You first need to be clear – get a handle on what they are. They’re a big part of your life, and being conscious about them is the first step to managing them.

Then make a plan. Not one to try and completely erase them (it won’t work). But a plan to fit them into your life in a way that doesn’t take too much time away from your startup. The goal is making unconscious distractions, conscious distractions.

Get a DVR/PVR and set aside some time each week to watch your shows. Make one night movie night, or gaming night, or clubbing night. Then go and have fun without the guilt, because it’s scheduled and part of your plan. It’s a conscious decision, not an out of control time waster.

Managing distractions is no different than any other part of business operations. The key is being conscious of what you’re doing, then making a plan and following it.

Personal distractions can be very loud and demanding. They can also be fun and will always be a part of your life.

Just make sure they play their part on your terms.