The Confusion that Leads to Distraction and Overwhelm
Some months back, I shared a post about how we're no longer in the information age--we now live in the interruption age.Do you feel more overwhelmed and distracted than you used to?If your experience is anything like many of the leaders I work with, you probably answered yes. Part of the reason we're so much more distracted than ever before is quite simple: there are a lot more things to distract us than ever before.Before technology enabled us to create a boundary-less world where we could work, connect and consume 24/7, we didn't have this kind of access. It's as if we're now swimming in a perpetual ocean of information.As exciting as riding these waves this can be, this swimming can easily turn into floundering--on a good day, we're treading water. On a bad day, it can feel like drowning.The cause?We confuse opportunity with priority.Opportunity. It's a shiny, glittering window that magnetizes the senses. Looking through its frame is thrilling.Like the Sirens that called to Odysseus, opportunity offers you possibilities at every turn. There are the obvious distractions:
- Read this about this horrible tragedy/natural disaster!
- Learn about what great lives your friends are having!
- Get the inside scoop on your favorite celebrity!
or the more subtle ones:
- Call this client back who never buys, but is real friendly to talk to.
- Check in with a colleague to once again "vent at the appropriate level".
- Read more articles on what I'm working on, because I need to do more research before producing.
Opportunity is sneaky: it travels at the speed of thought, so you can imagine a glorious outcome without putting in any effort.Priority moves slower. It travels at the speed of action. Rather than surfing the waves, working a priority means staying on shore, grounded and focused on whatever's most important.Priority translates into work. What needs to be done right now? What do I need to move forward?
- Call these five prospects.
- Do the laundry.
- Finish that report.
- Have that difficult conversation.
Opportunity is usually attractive and sexy.Priority: not so much.I recently came across a quote that seems particular appropriate to this:“Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.”--AnonymousWhat do you do to keep your priorities straight, and not get caught riding the waves of potential opportunities? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.