Michele Attias Life Coach

Create Committments and Erase Distractions

One of the best productivity tools I have ever used is the 80/20 rule, which is also named the Pareto Principle. This invites you to focus on the twenty percent of actions, which create eighty percent of your results.

It was a revelation to discover what percentage of the day was dedicated to activities that were bringing me closer to the results I wanted and which were not. 

This method far outweighed setting goals and five-year plans I previously spent time crafting, then engaged all sorts of systems to keep me on track. Or the dreaded new year's resolutions which were fresh and exciting on January 1st, but the motivation didn’t last long. Two weeks at the most. 

Everything looks great on paper, especially goals, outcomes and results, but we haven’t a backup plan for what happens when distractions get in the way. 

When we’re pulled into a million directions through our desire to be involved in every event that is going on.

A while back, I was coaching a self-employed website designer who wanted to expand his business. He had invested in expensive courses and training to get him on track, but nothing seemed to work. 

He mainly struggled with productivity in the morning as his mobile phone was his alarm clock. As soon as the alarm sounded, he would pick it up and take the opportunity to use his mobile phone to scroll through social media sites. Before he knew it, it was 11 am, and by then felt disinterested and uninspired to do any work.

I suggested an extremely simple solution. It's mind blowing sometimes how people expect complexity to be the answer, but the simplest tweaks often work best.

I asked him to replace the phone with an old fashioned alarm clock and keep the phone out of the bedroom.

If the distraction was the phone, it needed to be eliminated.

This was effective at least in getting him out of bed, but there was a deeper question that needs asking.

What are you committed to?

If it’s staying in bed until 11 am, then own it.

But if you’re committed to something more, then you have to erase all that is getting in the way.

This presents an extra challenge if you’re self-employed as there is a desire to create a business, write a book, develop an app, innovate or launch a new product. There is no longer a boss keeping you on your toes, someone you need to check in with at 9 am sharp.

There is simply you and being at the mercy of how you feel on that day. If you don’t feel inspired, just scroll through your phone for a while, skip a few hours and just take the afternoon off. If you feel great, then you work until late evening, cancelling dinner plans on your way.

It becomes a case of ‘I feel like it’ or ‘I don’t feel like it’.

You become a feeler rather than a doer. 

I’m not asking we dismiss feeling as these are important and should be acknowledged.

This is a case of developing a desire for what you want and getting certainty of why this is important to you. It isn’t about being selfish or narcissistic, it’s simply a more conscious way of leading a life. Being able to make choices rather than being sucked into everything that is happening externally.

I have a coaching client who at our initial sessions had a tendency to arrive late, I didn’t want to sit in judgement or make it a right or wrong. I just sat in curiosity. What was getting in the way of this client arriving on time?

More importantly, what does it say about his world?

I create coaching agreements before coaching a client where we both agree to show up on time for our sessions. He agreed to it at the time, but now he was at the mercy of life, guilt and people pleasing.

It was clear there was a compulsion to saying ‘yes’ to others requests and he was incapable of uttering the word ‘no’. This made him late, unreliable and unproductive. He was at the mercy of everything and everyone.

What’s wrong with telling people you’re simply not available?

Why is this so wrong?

People pleasing doesn’t serve and gets in the way of committing not only to a coaching session but far more than this. We need to take ownership of how time is being used. 

How we are being used.

If you’re saying ‘yes’ to one thing, you are saying ‘no’ to something else. It’s a simple equation.

Imagine being a warrior fighting to enter a castle to reach an overflowing pot of gold which is embedded deep inside. There is a heavy army standing in the way, and you have to slay each and every one of them who stop you from entering the castle. 

You can’t stand there dithering and playing with the marigolds in the field.

Distractions are one of the biggest enemies which get in the way of creating the results you want. I know because I used to be seduced by its power in the past. You only had to show me a shiny object and I would follow it blindly, and if the pied piper of Hamlin would have hummed his tune, I probably would have followed him too.

Every so often I’m still drawn by its influence, but I now recognise that it’s a form of avoidance and it can have some very luxurious and inviting qualities.

These can be heavily disguised in networking events, long drawn coffee mornings with connections, toxic relationships, social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or it could be as simple as being available to everyone at any time.

Observe where your energy hangs out during the day.

Is it at the mercy of every e-mail, phone call or text which pings on your phone whilst you’re stuck in the middle of a project? Unless you work as a resuscitator for the emergency services and you’re required to save a life, let it go. 

This is the biggest killer to workflow and productivity. The constant availability and being involved in everything, because often there is a desire to feel needed.

One of the things I learnt about the Pareto principle was that I could erase all that wasn’t bringing anything to the table and eliminate what was draining my energy. 

In doing this I skimmed away more than half of my activities, focusing only on what was in line with what I wanted. Everything else had to go. There was a ruthlessness about it. Like the warrior, slaying distractions that were time-consuming, senseless and pointless. 

And there were plenty.

What helped me do this initially was to have an activity log. In the log I wrote as a way of keeping a note of what I did each day. I meticulously completed it during two weeks which allowed me to see clearly what I was busy (or not busy) doing during the day. 

It made for interesting reading.

This wasn’t all about action, as it was key that I left space in my day to reflect and use as a creativity tool. In fact, allowing for space within the day was as important as breathing.

Having punctuated spaces within the day to create was miles better than being excessively busy or committed to things you might not even want to be doing.

It’s where the magic happens.

Where we have to develop mastery is to become better at distinguishing which space is a creative one, and which is a pure distraction. 

I asked myself regularly.

What's the best use of this moment?

If it was knuckling down to completing what needed to be done, then I would sit and complete. If the best use of my time was to take time out because I felt overwhelmed, or as a way of engaging creativity, then that’s what I chose to do.

A few days ago, just after a terrorist attack in the U.K, I was meant to travel via underground to the West End for an event I had been looking forward to attending and which marked the next stage in my business. 

I’m not an anxious person by nature, but I felt more than a little nervous to step into the train. I was well aware that I would spend most of the time sitting in my seat uncomfortably assessing each person who walked in. Especially if they so much as entered the train holding a bag larger than a clutch purse.

But here’s the thing, the talk was given by a well-known publishing house I wanted to approach and this made me question my commitment. I realised I that no terrorist threat was going to stop me from attending.

This taught me about renewing our own internal commitments with regularity. Questioning how much we want it, rather than blindly pushing ourselves to be motivated or enforce it.

In recent times, I have seen a trend in married couples renewing their vows as a way of strengthening the agreement and commitment they made to each other all those years ago. I believe we need to do similarly with our business and personal life. 

Renewing our vows to serve as a reminder of why we still hang on. 

Honour and build a routine to become masterful at declining what doesn’t fit with what you want.

When the Florentine Sculptor Michelangelo sculptured the marvellous figure of David, he was initially given a huge block of marble stone with the expectation that it would be turned into a work of art. He worked solidly on the statue for two years, removing all that was unnecessary to create the magnificent statue of David.

I’m sure there were times when Michelangelo was tired, unmotivated and couldn’t bear to see another piece of stone, but he was committed to the result. He chipped away and removed the unwanted parts of stone as a way of shaping it into exactly what he had visualised. 

In life, you’re given a block of time and it’s up to you to shape the hours and days. To chip away eliminating all that is unnecessary until you’ve arrived at your masterpiece. 

Business Marketing
Self Development