Is Distraction Threatening Your Site’s Progress? Here’s Help!

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How to Beat Distraction Online

If getting distracted were a crime, I’d be doing major time!

No lie. It has really affected my productivity in the last year.  Can you relate?

How many times have you gone online to do something and ended up doing everything BUT that task because you got distracted by some email, notification, etc?

I’m not really a huge social media user, so that’s not a big source of distraction for me. My bigger problem is starting a task and then getting distracted by some thought, task or notification which causes me to move on to something else.

Then I’ll forget what I sat down to do in the first place. It’s really crazy!

I’ve been doing much better in the last couple of months, so I want to share a few tips with you.

Try The StayFocused Chrome App

This is a highly configurable productivity app that lets you set the amount of time you can spend on certain websites per day.

When that time is up, the site will be blocked so you can no longer visit.

Click here for details.

Minimize Notifications

We live in what I like to call Notification Hell, and in my opinion, it’s the source of so many distractions.

It’s bad enough you probably feel the pressure to join any and every network to grow your business, and then you are even more consumed with the technology because you have umpteen notifications alerting you of every blessed event.

Enough already!

The problem with notifications is they can make you feel as if you NEED to tend to something NOW and can further distract you from what you really need to be doing at the moment.  

Remember, most apps have Settings where you can turn off the notifications.

I used to have the iPhone Twitter app alert me every time someone replied to something I shared.   This is not really something I need to know the moment it happens.  I can check the next time I log in to Twitter.

Twitter Notfication

Let me show you how easily a simple notification can throw you off course, and I’m sure many of you can relate to this.

– Twitter alert comes in…

– You open the app to look at the tweet…

– You reply to the person…

– You notice something else in your Twitter feed that you want to read…

– [Click]

– Great article…. Oh look.  What a cool design on this blog.  I wonder what theme this is?  Oh, here’s a link in the footer…

– [Click]

– Wow, $150 is kind of pricey for a theme.  Let me see if I can find a cheaper version….

– [Performs Google search for another theme]

– [Another incoming notification] 

You get the idea.

Thirty minutes later you are off doing anything other than what you set out to do, and it all began with a simple notification.

This is the world we live in now, and it can be incredibly distracting to someone trying to build or market a website.

By limiting notifications, not only have I saved some juice on my iPhone battery, but I’ve saved my sanity!

Do you REALLY need that app to alert you for every new visitor on your website?  Probably not.

Get rid of the ones that aren’t really necessary and keep the ones that are truly important.

Be More Selective With Your Social Networks

Wade Harman hosted a Google Hangout with Jay Baer of Youtility and there was one minute in the hangout that really resonated with me as an Internet Marketer.

In a nutshell, Jay admitted that he wishes he spent more time focusing on one or two networks instead of trying to have great interaction everywhere.

He even tells his clients to limit their number of active networks, and is bothered by the hypocrisy of that suggestion since he doesn’t really do that himself.

You can hear his courageous, one-minute confession by clicking the play button below.  I’ve already scrubbed to that sound bite for convenience.

(Reading this via email? Click here to watch.)

*claps for his brutal honesty*

I hope you listened to the clip.  It only takes a minute, and I believe it will speak to a lot of you.

It’s so incredibly refreshing to hear someone as accomplished as Jay admit he struggles in that area.

Sure, you can post your content to the relevant social networks out there. I still believe in doing that. But being truly ACTIVE and having great engagement on multiple networks is another story.

We’re human and we cannot effectively have great interaction on EVERY site. So we end up spinning our wheels trying to be popular everywhere.  Another unnecessary distraction!

I try to make sure the time I spend on social media is appropriate for the value gained, but I’d be lying if I said I was the most efficient in that area.

So Jay, I hear ya!

Unplug Your Brain


I discovered that I also get distracted easier when I’m burned out and need to unplug.

I travel quite a bit throughout the year which helps me re-charge my batteries. I don’t even bring my laptop anymore so I’m not tempted to work.  I may check email on my phone once or twice, but that’s it.

As a result, I always notice how much more refreshed I am when returning home.

Even if you aren’t traveling, set a realistic time to unplug regularly. Start by doing this one night per week.  Choose a timeframe you are comfortable with because you are going to feel strange at first.

I don’t do this every night, but I try to do it at least 3 times per week, and I find that I’m much more rested, creative and focused the next day.

If you think about it, our brains were not created to be in information consumption mode all the time. But because of the Internet and social media, we’ve sort of molded into this lifestyle.

We may think we’re multi-tasking and staying in-the-know, but our bodies are suffering in the process.

Make a List


I am always more productive when I have a “to do” list.  Not only does it keep me focused, but there’s something satisfying about seeing items checked off a list.

It’s also a good excuse to reward myself with some avocado fro-yo at the end of the day.

Hey, don’t cringe at the flavor.  It’s actually very tasty! :)

orange leaf
Mmmmmmm! Nothing says reward like a cup of self-serve avocado fro-yo from Orange Leaf. :)

Stop Obsessing Over The Wrong Numbers


What’s the point of worrying about how many followers you have when you don’t even have much content to share with them yet?

If you are feeling distracted by this, just remember, if the 25 people that are already following you aren’t clicking or engaging, what is adding 2,000 more going to do for you?

First, work on building value to prove to people you even have a brand that’s even worth following.

Ask yourself these questions before you publish your next article…

1) Why would someone find this interesting when there are 534,000 articles that are very similar?

2) What kind of proof do I have to show that this concept or product is really working for me so I can improve my credibility and trust?

3) Is my content missing a voice or do I sound like a robot regurgitating content?

4) How can I use my own personal experience to communicate a lesson that is relevant to my reader’s needs or problems?

My point is, spend time in the EARLY days establishing yourself as an authority through proof and authenticity, and people will be more likely to follow you.  Stop being distracted by numbers that don’t really matter yet.

Trust me.  When your site starts to ooze value and connect with people, many of those followers will come naturally.

And yes, I realize this is 2014 so the “will come naturally” part is harder because the bar for quality is higher than it’s ever been.

Nevertheless, the concept still works.

Yes, We Are Too Connected

Coincidentally, when I started writing this post last week, two people I follow posted related content I want to share.

One of my friends from college, Elaine of, published a video about going on a 7-day media fast due to how much she had been distracted by the Internet.

I thought this was a great idea. Can you imagine doing this?  I know, I know.  Some of you are probably getting the shakes just thinking about it. :)


Obviously it’s hard to unplug completely for 7 days if your business is online, but you can still modify it and do something that is more realistic for your lifestyle.

John Paul of (whom I playfully refer to as J.P. ’cause we’re cool like that) :) shared an infographic this past weekend that really brings to life how much time we spend “connected” and what it’s doing to our health.

You’ve got to check it out.  I’m still blown away by how many people take their phones to the bathroom.  Seriously?  Wow!

No doubt we’re too connected to our devices and more distracted than ever.  And it’s not a coincidence so many bloggers are writing about this now.

Can you relate?  Do you feel overwhelmed?  Distracted?  Is it affecting your online work? How do you stay focused?

Don’t be shy. :) Looking forward to hearing from you!

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  1. says


    First I’m cracking up because of course! Yes! I’m the queen of bunny trails.

    And I have to say what a wonderfully, warm feeling to know that YOU struggle with bad habits too! I’m sorry but that just makes me so happy. :)

    I’ve “known” and certainly respected you from the SBI days.. so it’s totally refreshing to know you’re not always Wonder Woman working feverishly to build her awesome businesses.

    Oh, and about that “being everywhere” on social media… I’ve encouraged my peeps and lived by only mastering one or two, instead of being mediocre (as Jay confessed) at all of them.

    My SM of choice is Twitter and Pinterest.. and I am just now adding Instagram cuz my brilliant daughter will help me manage it. Apparently FB is dying & Instagram thriving in the younger community. At least with the young pp I know. But mainly the reason I’m doing it is cuz it looks like so much fun, and I think we tend to do better if it’s fun.

    ~ darlene :)

  2. says

    I love this post, thanks for great content.
    I also get distracted a lot with Facebook, reading my emails and YouTube. These are 3 main factors for me.
    But as you suggested in your post, now I am doing my checklist every day and is working like crazy for me. I start with the 1. thing to do and I’m doing it until it is done, then I move to the next and so on. It really helps to be more productive and I also have more spare time and do more things in one day.
    Cheers. Matjaz Slanc

  3. says

    This is such a great articles Lisa, I was talking to my friend the other day that working from home is not easy when there is so many distractions around, I think focus and the to do list helps me a lot.

  4. says

    Oh you and me both Lisa.

    From YouTube videos to news articles I’m always getting distracted.

    What I consider work can be done in 2-3-4 hours tops but I always end up doing wayyy more than that LOL!

  5. says

    There are days when I feel consumed my Technology. I might check my Twitter about a Zillion times a day, to see what Trending, just so I don’t miss out on anything. It’s frustrating. And given that I work from Home, I sort of get a free pass. I’m not sure whether to embrace it or condemn it. I’ve reduced the time I spend on Social Networking sites, by finding other interesting and satisfying activities like Soccer and Boxing.

  6. Steve says

    Hi Lisa, this really resonates with me. I am a full carer for my wife and we have some properties rented out where I do much of the repair work also. Even having different email boxes for different parts of your life doesn’t cure all your problems, your address is traded as a commodity and spread around like peanut butter-unsubscribe has become a big thing lately. I also use a kitchen timer or the alarm on the mobile- I seem to respond well to it. Sometimes especially first thing in the morning it can help to leave the computer OFF if there is non-computer work to do. Going to have a good look at those apps and articles.
    Many thanks, it’s great to know we are all human.

  7. says

    In the last month I have been actively battling distraction. It really is a “condition”. I have been steadfast at sticking to my checklists and budgeting my time. At the end of the day I have completed lots of things that I was putting off and carved out more time for even more tasks.
    For me the biggest revelation of this newly found focus is realizing that there is far more that I want to than I really have time for. And as a result I have learned to be better at prioritizing.
    It is far better to do a few things well than to do a mediocre job on a lot of things.

    • says

      You said the p-word…. prioritization! Yes. That’s something I left out and probably should have included. You’re right. We can’t do everything and there are some things we have to learn to abandon for the sake of our own sanity. Completely agree!

  8. says

    Nice post, being distracted is a great problem for me whenever I come on the internet mostly by social networking websites I think I will have to create a to do list seems to be a nice idea to stay focused and I just installed the chrome app you refereed to I hope it helps me a new start for my blog.

    • Darren says

      It is THE way to work. Structure and planning really helps. I remember someone saying “when you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do” :)

      I’ve never forgotten that advice and I like to make sure anyone I work with is using a planner and a calendar. You also need to respect other people’s time as well as your own, and when associates/colleagues see that you are taking the time to plan your work (and work your plan) they’ll take you that much more seriously.

  9. Darren says

    Write a list of tasks the night before. It’s the best way to work and your mind has time to go to work on it while you sleep. A calandar helps too.

  10. says

    This was just the post I needed to read right now for a number of reasons.

    I am relatively new to the world of blogging and had recently got to a stage where I wasn’t sure which way to turn. So I set myself some ground rules, I find that if I am on the computer too late into the evening I can’t switch off to sleep, no matter how tired I am, so I now come off the computer between 8pm and 8.30pm.

    I avoid checking out my blog on a Friday as Fridays sacred in our family, my hubby and son go and play pool and me and daughter enjoy bad food, bad telly and time together – love it!

    I was slightly worried about the fact that I don’t ‘do’ Facebook and really can’t get the hang of Twitter – probably because it just doesn’t interest me, but I do enjoy Google+. I did watch full length video where I think it was Jay Baer and two other bloggers were talking about social networking and admitting to putting a lot of pressure on themselves by trying to interact on too many networks. Which made me breathe a deep sigh of relief!

    I don’t have as much time as I would like to spend blogging, so I have decided to write a post one day, then read and share other peoples blog posts the next day. At least that way I have a plan and don’t end up getting distracted trying to do both things on the same day.

    Sorry I have waffled on for a bit, but I did find your post helpful. Thank you!

    • says

      I love that you abandon your blog on Fridays to focus on family. One day I will work up to doing something similar. Good for you! And I loved that you wrote a lot. This is exactly what I wanted this post to do…. generate feedback and stories from others! Good luck with your blog.

      • says

        Fridays is pretty important to us, it only seems like yesterday that they were babies and now they are teenagers. I am sure that things will be changing in the next few years, so it is important for us to enjoy each others company before the children leave home and start to build their own lives.

        I do have a tendency to waffle on, but mainly when I am writing, so it’s not too bad, although I am sure that some of my blog posts are a little on the long side as are some of my comments on posts!

        Thank you for wishing me luck with my blog. I am sure that you and other respected bloggers have put hours of hard work into their blogs, so I am not expecting overnight miracles, but maybe in a year or so I may have a regular reader or two!

  11. says

    You have called me onto the carpet with this one. I am The Queen of Distraction. I first read the post on my phone but decided I needed to read it again and respond from my laptop. On the way, I got distracted because my browser was opened to YouTube so I watched a few videos and drifted off to Amazon. I finally got to the post on the “big screen”.

    I would love to do a Media Fast but I’m afraid I’d go bananas. I realize that technology was not always so attached and we lived without it. But personally, notifications are kinda like the old fashioned days of the telephone — before Caller ID. It meant someone was calling and the caller and his/her purpose for calling was unknown until the receiver was picked up. It was kinda fun. Mass notifications are definitely counter productive for me. I may be able to unplug and take the Media Fast!

    Thanks Lisa!

    • says

      Ha ha ha! I can sooooooo relate to the YouTube distraction. Just today I was going to run and errand and an hour later I’m still watching hair videos! lol

      Start slow with the Media Fast ’cause it’s gonna feel really weird the first day. So try one day and see if you can handle it. Yes, it does feel strange but then after that you feel refreshed and realize how much you need to do it more often.

      Good luck!

  12. says

    Love this article. This is totally my problem for past years….just totally deleted my personal fb a couple months ago n it has helped. Great article!

  13. says

    Thanks Lisa for highlighting this issue. Online distractions had always been a huge problem for me until I trained myself to focus on a to-do list. I am just coming back form an 8 day break (monday to monday), after spending an entire weekend on my computer. Yeh I think its good to unplug sometimes for a while. I use to feel I was the only one suffering from this, but its good to know that I am not alone.
    Great article.

  14. says

    Excellent article and something more people should think about. More often.
    Distraction is the bane of the Internet. I don’t do much with social media anymore – it simply became boring for me a few years ago.
    Nevertheless, I now subscribe to far too many blogs [the irony is apparent as I subscribe to your site :) ].
    Like you, there are way too good sites and good writers.
    I recently wrote an article in defense of watching dumb TV shows. It cools my brain and I can sleep better.

  15. says

    That is all so familiar. I am freelancing now, helping new bloggers, and the distractions are requiring all my willpower to overcome. Sometimes I wonder what I actually achieve in a day.

  16. says

    Hey Lisa, you’ve hit on a huge topic with this one. All it takes is that one innocent click to drag you off from your focus and waste most of the day. With me, the big source of distractions is…EMAIL. I get dozens of email each day, most of which I delete without reading; but the ones I do read can suck out all the time in the day and have my focus in shreds. Once I find a better way to tame that beast, I’ll be able to get a lot more accomplished.

    • says

      Hi Allan! I found a perfect solution for you – well, I had the same problem and this worked for me, LOL!

      Get a second email account for all those signups you’ll do in the future. Meanwhile, if you have a lot of email subscriptions, each one gives you an opportunity to UPDATE your subscription, not just UNSUBSCRIBE. So, the magic happens after you redirect ALL of them to the new account.

      Now, I admit, I rarely visit my second account, but that kind of proves something, in itself. As for my main email, I get a dozen a day, half of which are updates from financial websites and get marked as read right from the Gmail list pane.

      Maybe some or all of this suggestion will inspire you to rethink your email.



  17. says

    I am a travel blogger so its already difficult to combine work and travel, plus sometimes im not really enjoying my trip as im too distracted by taking notes, checking my mobile…you name it!

    I am at the point where im seriously releaved when i have to discover some place where there is no internet. The first day im very nervous then i start to relax and i realize how tied and obsessed i am over the notification syndrome.

    I seriously need to work more on it!

    Great article..

    • says

      Cle, that’s exactly how I felt when I first started unplugging. You feel like you’re missing out on something important even though most of the time it’s something that can wait! But yes, as you get used to it you start to crave the break. Now I’m getting better at recognizing when it’s time to unplug and I realize how much I need it. Thanks for coming by and sharing this.

  18. says

    Great article Lisa! I find myself getting very distracted by social media, especially when I was supposed to be doing another task. I’m going to use your idea of turning my phone notifications off for Twitter. I tend to get distracted by the constant buzzing of my phone. I also love what you shared about having a to do list. Every morning I sit and write out the tasks I want to accomplish for the day. I can’t recommend creating a to do list enough. I’m going to take your advice about refreshing because I don’t do that enough. Thanks for the great advice!

  19. says

    Lisa, I really could have used this advice two years ago. One of the biggest distractions is FOMOI (Fear of Missing Out On Information.) You mentioned it in a way that might elude some folks:

    – Great article…. Oh look. What a cool design on this blog. I wonder what theme this is? Oh, here’s a link in the footer…

    Those two dirty words after … say it all. Shiny Object Syndrome, abetted by Quest for Magic Bullet. Internet Marketing wannabes (like I am) are easily distracted because we don’t know who the best teachers are.

    I mean, it is clear that you are a great teacher but, still, not everyone should be trying to emulate you! (Big boots to fill, after all!) Instead, folks should learn to adapt the information from 2 or 3 reliable resources. Did I mention that yours is the ONLY subscription I kept over the years?

    Actually, I keep an eye out for my friends’ posts, but they’re more for entertainment than information, so they don’t count. The point is, this keeping in touch could also be a distraction. I keep it under control by using email or Google Plus. I am practically non-existent on Twitter and Facebook – and don’t get me started on all the abandoned muddy footprints I’ve stomped all over the web’s welcome mats.

    Each of us has to find our own balance between productivity, enjoyment and plain ol’ slacking off. In a way, Jay probably should not be apologetic: after all, if you are part of a fluid industry, you almost HAVE to stay engaged, or risk becoming irrelevant. I believe the more useful course of action is to judiciously prune the deadwood from your repertoire.

    Heh. Easy for me to say – I’m just a wannabe. Good luck focusing!



    • says

      “Shiny Object Syndrome.” I wish I had thought to use that phrase instead. :) That’s exactly what is happening…. especially with newbies. My heart really does go out to people just starting. There was no social media and YouTube when I got started so it was easier to stay focused. Today people feel like they have to do EVERYTHING and it’s so easy to spread yourself too thin.

      You made my day with some of these comments and I’m humbled. Thank you so much Mitch!

  20. says

    Frankly I thought that was one of the best lines in the whole segment. “I just don’t have the balls to do that”. Can you imagine a guy of his caliber saying that in public? I thought he was perfect on everything!! That makes it look bad in the future for me!

    I think that we should do what Jay is saying here. Time gets away from us, there are so many platforms we can get involved in and spread ourselves too thin. Pick one and be great at it!

    Thanks for including me Lisa.

    • says

      Wade, I had so much respect for him when he said that. I think a lot of people think that super successful people like Jay have it all together and we can sometimes forget they are human and make mistakes too. That’s why that sentence resonated with me so much. Now I need to heed his advice! lol

  21. says

    Great article Lisa. I have a daily results planner that I use-like a to do list. On Sunday night I plan the week and every night I plan the next day. Otherwise I’ll wake up and go in 20 directions and not have anything accomplished at the end of the day. I also break down my activities based on what will have the highest impact and what will have the highest income. It helps to keep me from getting distracted by every shiny object. I’ve also unsubscribed to those lists that weren’t really providing value or for whatever reason I never got around to reading the emails. That way, I don’t have as many emails to ponder over should I read it, keep it, trash it or file it. lol

  22. says

    Well, I use a couple of most visited social networks a couple of minutes a day. Not really type for that.

    As for tasks and to do lists, there’s this classification I read from a wise businessman – I forgot the name but someone might remember. You divide your “to do” in 4 categories – A) urgent and important, B) urgent and unimportant, C) not-urgent and important, D) not-urgent and unimportant.

    Now you can start eliminating and/or delegating. Eliminate D. Minimize and delegate B (because if something is unimportant, then why it should be urgent in the first place. However, if a client considers it important, then you have to be careful about that). Delegate A) find good people and pay them well. This way you won’t be distracted from doing C. Because it is what your focus should be C is where you should shine, so take your time and do your best.

    Stilll, I don’t know where exactly to put social networks here. They are certainly not urgent. They may be important if done well. I hope to delegate the task one fine day to someone who is shining there.

  23. says

    I choose the social media networks that I am active in based on whether I believe I can add value to the conversations. With my business consulting practice, I find that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are arenas where I can share ideas and suggestions to others trying to build a business, but I no longer participate in Pinterest. I like Pinterest but it doesn’t resonate with the people I am trying to serve. I also try to offer fresh approaches and comments that are worth reading. Time is valuable. I hope this comment was worth reading for your readers, Lisa!

  24. robert campbell says

    Great post Lisa !!

    Even though I’ve been on the web since 2002, I’m just starting to get involved with social media.

    I write an investment newsletter for real estate investors and real estate agents.

    If you had to chose between FaceBook and LinkedIn, which one would you suggest I get started with?

    Thank you.

    Robert Campbell

    • says

      Hi Robert,

      Try working both and see what happens. You may end up using both. Nothing wrong with managing a couple of networks and I don’t want to make it sound like you should ONLY choose one. I’m referring more to those who feel they have to be popular in 8 different networks.

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