The phrase “Oh look, squirrel,” comes from the film Up and is said by a dog that is frequently distracted. There is even a Facebook page named after the phrase which is often associated with ADD. As internet marketers we need to keep focused and should be aware of our own ‘squirrel moments’.
It seems to me there are three types of distractions that we need to be aware of: external, internal, and what I’m going to call Nasca. Generally each one is harder to spot than the last.
External distractions are the ones that are most obvious. I call them external because they come from outside of your planned day. They are events that are not forseen and therefore you have not allowed time for them. Unexpected phone calls, tasks that others hand to you without notice and problems that arise fit in this category.
The important thing to remember is no matter how important they may seem do not let them distract you (unless they threaten life or limb like for example your office is on fire!). So even if you discover one morning some links on your website no longer work stick to completing your main task first. The broken links may seem more urgent, but the fact is the distracting situation may have been like that for a while. Another couple of hours while you complete your main task will not make that much difference. If you keep letting these distractions interrupt you your main tasks will be completed much later than planned, which can disrupt your overall plan for the year. Make a note of what needs to be done and attend to it once your main task is completed.
Internal distractions are ones you set up yourself. These are sometimes called getting in your own way or self sabotage. They usually take the form of procrastination and time wasting activities. Checking Facebook, your email or news feeds are typical examples.
The important thing is to notice when they happen. Record them and see how often they occur. By raising awareness of what you are doing you can see how much time and progress these activities are costing you. That should make it less likely that you’ll allow these distracting behaviours to continue.
The third type of distraction is possibly the hardest to spot. It’s particularly difficult if you don’t have a plan and you’re not clear on what the really important stuff is.
I call these Nasca distractions, after the Nasca lines – giant pictures created by the Nasca culture between 400 and 650 AD. These images, which are only visible from surrounding hills or higher, include hummingbirds, monkeys and spiders.
Like the images these distractions can only be spotted if you view from above your immediate surroundings, though in this case your surroundings in terms of time – the current day or week. Cast your eyes over what you planned to do in the coming months and they should be more obvious.
Falling foul of this type of distraction can see you wandering from your main, long-term goal and spending too much time pursuing something less important. The best way to guard against this is to have a plan and review your progress regularly.
Recently I’ve realised I have done this myself. My main focus had become getting traffic to this site. Unfortunately the main methods I was using were time consuming and had to be maintained if the flow of traffic was to continue. Meanwhile I was doing little or no work on the product I aim to release this year.
So now I’ve realigned my tasks and I’m once again giving the product top priority. Last week I prepared over twenty videos for uploading to a website. This week I intend to complete the other parts of the product so that I can start on the sales video. This means I have less time to spend on getting traffic to this site, but at least I am now working on completing my first main goal of the year.
I think we need to be vigilant when it comes to distractions. Hopefully I’ve given you an opportunity to think about whether you have fallen victim to any and you’ll now be on your guard against your own ‘squirrel moments’.