Step 08:
How To Overcome Distractions You CAN’T Control

In the last chapter, you learned about overcoming distractions that you can control, including social media accounts, email accounts, favorite sites, and smartphones/tablets. In this chapter, you will learn how to overcome distractions you can’t control.

What are some distractions you can’t control? Well, for instance, if you have a family, you may have children running your house doing whatever they please, which can include making a lot of noise or playing loud music, etc. This is especially true in the summer when they are out of school or on the weekends when they are not in school, etc. Obviously, you can’t control exactly what they do or how they behave, although you can try to set up rules in how they behave and act, but only to a point. Yet, their actions and noise can disrupt your rhythm and ruin your focus and work quality if you allow them to.

A similar instance can occur if your spouse is cleaning the house and running a vacuum cleaner or other loud machine in an effort to clean the house. Again, you can’t directly control what he/she is doing; thus, you will have to deal with the noise in some fashion. The actions and noise from such activity can also disrupt your rhythm and ruin your focus and work quality if you allow them to.

How do you handle and overcome such distractions? One way is to discuss your work schedule and your need for a quiet environment with your spouse and/or children. If they are understanding, they will likely try to accommodate you if possible. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be absolutely quiet – after all, the house still needs to be cleaned, and children will still be children – but they may make some effort to accommodate you if they can. With that said, though, you still will have to make a determined effort to ignore or block out any noise or actions that are not eliminated.

How can you do this? Consider earplugs of some sort and wear them when noise is prevalent in your work area. Even cotton balls could be helpful in blocking out some of the noise, which can help to improve your focus and your work quality.

Note that it’s not just your spouse and children that can cause distractions in your work area. If you have pets, they can also cause distractions, whether it’s your dog barking or your cats and/or dogs wanting attention from you, etc. If it’s your dog barking, you can use the earplugs/cotton balls tip to help you remain focused on your work; if your cats and/or dogs want attention from you, try to prevent them from entering your work area if possible. Shut the door at all times while you are in your work area, and even when you leave to use the restroom or head elsewhere in your home- this way, they can’t get in when you leave.

If your pet(s) try scratching at the door while you are in there, either ignore them or shout “no” to them. This may help to deter them from continuing to do so. You may want to consider talking to them and giving them a little bit of attention during those 15- minute breaks we’ve discussed before, as this can help to alleviate their distress during the times you are not with them, plus it can be therapeutic for you as well.

Other distractions that can occur in your home include a neighbor mowing his/her lawn or doing other noisy yard work.

Again, the ear bud/cotton ball technique can help to block out the noise and keep you focused on your work. Another distraction can be your landline phone ringing; you can either choose to ignore the phone ringing (possibly with help from ear buds/cotton balls) or even choose to turn the ringer off. If you have an answering machine, you can either choose to block out the noise with ear buds/cotton balls or turn the volume down to zero so you can’t hear what is being said by anyone who leaves a message.

All of these distractions – loud noises from spouses/kids, loud noises and distractions from pets, noisy yard work by neighbours, landline phone calls and answering machine messages – are ones you cannot directly control, but can learn to block them out via talking with spouses and/or children, ignoring your pets and/or training them to not make noise, muting the volume on phones and answering machines, and using ear buds or cotton balls to block out noises you can’t control so that you can stay more focused on your work and ensure you provide high work quality. In the next chapter, you will learn why staying on time or ahead of your project is essential to producing your best work.

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