“I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” – Nehemiah, the great Nation Builder
Today is day 45 of #LAST70DAYSOF2013 (with 25 days left to go in 2013) I want to draw my inspiration from the story of Nehemiah as recorded in the bible, which happens to be one of the most inspiring stories to me. There are a lot of things one can learn from the man Nehemiah, in terms of becoming a generational nation builder. From his life, we learn that when you set out for a great vision, the enemy comes with several distractions to try to stop you from achieving what you want to. At the same time, he also taught us that it is possible to eliminate those distractions. He told the people attempting to distract him that he was doing a great work and cannot afford to let it cease because of anything else.
We all can identify with this situation very well. It seems sometimes, that it is at that moment that we make up our mind to do something reasonable, tangible, productive, life-changing and impacting with our lives that something will come up to distract us and sap us of our energy, resources, intellect, materials, health, family and friends. Meanwhile, it is the desire of every meaningful and focused person to achieve his or set goals at the earliest time possible in life. This is only possible when distractions are eliminated from your life (or at least, reduced to a level where it does not affect your efficiency, effectiveness and productivity).
We all have way too many distractions in our lives these days. But, imagine how much you can achieve with your life daily at work, business, ministry or family if you could eliminate distractions. Distractions can be emotional, energetic, or physical, and come in the form of conflicted feelings, negative thoughts, too many emails, too many commitments, feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem, and anything else that gets in our way of having a clear, singular focus on what we truly desire and expectation from life. One of the fundamental principles of productivity is that in order to get things done, you must focus. And that necessary focus requires that you eliminate as many distractions as possible.
So… what’s distracting you these days? How often are you spending your time doing what you think you should be doing instead of what you deeply want to be doing? How often do you say to yourself… “I don’t have enough time; I have too much on my plate; “I can’t focus?”
To live life with less distraction so you can be more productive in 2014, consider implementing one or more of these unconventional habits:
Accept and accentuate your personal rhythms. Discover the rhythms of your day to make the most of them. For example, I do my best creative work in the nights to very early hours of the mornings, afternoons work well for busy-work, and evenings are set aside for family—leaving late evenings for entertainment, rest, and guilt-free distraction. Accepting and understanding our natural rhythms to the day/week provides healthy motivation to remove distractions during our most productive parts of the day knowing there is opportunity later to indulge them.
Establish a healthy morning routine. Henry Ward Beecher once said, “The first hour is the rudder of the day.” He was absolutely right. Begin your days on your terms apart from distraction. If possible, wake first in your household, fix yourself a warm breakfast. Journal or read or just enjoy the silence. Plan how you want the day to go, and commit it to God. Develop a distraction-free morning routine. It will lay the foundation for a less-distracted day.
Keep a to-do list. One of the most helpful and practical pieces of advice I ever received about keeping focus is the simple solution of keeping a to-do list handy and current. No matter how hard you try to manage yourself, new responsibilities and opportunities will surface in your mind from internal and external sources. The opportunity to quickly write down the task allows it to be quickly discarded from your mind.
Be mindful of the internet and social media. We all have problem with this point. This may sound drastic, but really, the Internet is one of the biggest time-waster ever invented (and you dare not get addicted to it). Learn to turn off the internet when you do not need it for your present task. Even if you are using Twitter or Facebook in the name of business, sitting on either of both, checking in all day long and responding to alerts is not helping your business. Remind yourself what you do, and why you do it…then go do it.
Avoid impulsive tasks and jobs. Sometimes, when we are at the peak of a task, we just remember that there is a task we wanted to do before now or someone comes up with another task for you and demands you attend to it immediately. This can be a form of distraction to our focus. Therefore, you must avoid any impulsive (something you have not previously planned for that is not necessarily important at the moment) tasks and job distract you.
And finally, learn to ‘say no to people’ who distract you with their interests. You must not go out with them for a drink or cinema because they are your friends when you were meant to be busy with something else. Many of us compromise this point because we have imbibed the ‘people-pleasing’ mentality. It is your life and no one should let you misuse your time.
The objective of eliminating distraction is not to control your day or predict your every move, but instead to work on things that you care about, spend time with people that you love, and live your life on purpose. What is most distracting for you? What are you going to do about it?
Prayer: May God strengthen your hands against every emotional, social, and physical distractions as He did for Nehemiah in 2014 and beyond in Jesus name, Amen!