It was one of those unproductive days. There were many things to do but I had been distracted throughout the day. A quick Facebook check had gone on too long. A YouTube video someone emailed me turned into several. A text to a friend turned into a long back and forth. Hours flew by without much accomplishment.
I arrived home from work with the weight of my to-do list. Thankful for the pocket office known as the smartphone, I pulled it out and got to work. That was when my son came in and asked me if we could play together. I told him I would when I finished my work.
As he headed for the backyard I heard him mumble, “You never finish your work to play with me.” Talk about being punched in the stomach. I turned my phone off and went out to play with my son.
Even when we have productive days, it’s difficult to satisfy the needs of work and home. What do we do when we feel pulled in every direction? A good place to start is removing the distractions. Here’s a Confession: I’m Distracted.
1. Set Rules and Be Disciplined.
Famed golfer Tom Watson said, “The person I fear most in the last two rounds is myself.” You are in control of your daily activity. Set rules for yourself and stick to it. Set a clock when you watch videos, search social media, or read about your favorite sports teams. When the alarm goes off, exit out, and get back to work. Mac Users: Try an App called “Nice Timer.”
2. Structure Your Schedule.
If you don’t want to waste time, then structure your entire week. Plan out your days in fifteen, ten, or even five minute increments. The lower the increment, the less time you will waste. Set time blocks for certain projects. Put it in your calendar. Have your wife and/or a friend look over it and give feedback. Let that schedule become a part of your internal clock.
3. Set Daily Activity Goals and Deadlines.
Notice I said activity, not mission goals. Focus on doing the small things with excellence and make it a game. It needs to be measurable and attainable—whether it is a certain number of calls you will make, projects you will complete, ideas you will come up with, systems you will improve, or clients with whom you will meet. Make a scoreboard and start adding up the points. You will feel a sense of accomplishment, increase productivity, and feel easier shutting it off when you arrive at home.
4. The Nuclear Option.
You may have tried moderation and cutting back. It hasn’t worked. It might be time to get more extreme. No one is more worth you taking extreme measures than your family. Delete social media apps from your phone. No more YouTube. Give up your social media persona and get face-to-face with your wife and kids. At the end of your life, you will never look back wishing you had spent more time on Facebook.
BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.