The Confusion that Leads to Distraction and Overwhelm

SirensSome 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.