In this article, we’re going to talk about flowers, weeds, and distractions.
They are related, so stay with me.
Read it carefully and think about how what is said here applies to you.
What is a flower?
You don’t have to be a botanist or horticulturalist to answer this question.
Most of us know a flower when we see one.
Almost by definition, a flower is a plant that has some kind of colored head that consists of petals that are joined together in the center.
That said, not all such plants are things that we would like to have in our gardens.
When is a flower not a flower?
If you like to grow flowers in your yard or garden, then you also battle with weeds.
What is a weed?
Ignoring the botanical definition, you would probably say that a weed is too much of something that you don’t want.
It could be that you don’t want any of it, in which case even one plant would be over-the-top.
What would you think if your entire flower bed consisted of nothing but one kind of flower?
Unless that’s what you wanted, according to our definition, those flowers – or at least some of them – would be weeds; because you had more of them than you wanted.
It also means that in the right proportion, those plants that you normally think of as weeds are actually flowers.
Flowers in the wrong place
It’s been said that weeds are flowers that grow in the wrong place.
The idea is that they would probably look quite nice . . . somewhere else.
And you know that this is true.
All you have to do is look at a meadow.
There are countless species of flowers and grasses growing together in what may seem to be a random and unplanned way.
Collectively, however, they look beautiful.
Move one of them into your garden, and you’re not so sure.
Take a thistle, for example.
You’d pull it up immediately if you found it among your roses, hollyhocks, or osteospermum.
But in a meadow, a thistle – with its white or purple flower fits right in.
It’s what you expect to see in a meadow.
We call that background, context
The context consists of the other wildflowers in that meadow, and a thistle is one of them.
When a flower is a weed
Several years ago, while visiting the famous Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds, England, I saw a bed of red tulips.
About half way along, there was a yellow one – all by itself.
Clearly, a yellow bulb had found it’s way into the red bin.
It’s likely that no one noticed the rogue flower until it bloomed.
That’s because you have to have a trained eye to spot the difference between a bulb that produces a red flower and one that yields a yellow one.
To most of us, a bulb is a bulb is a bulb.
Are tulips flowers?
Would you agree that tulips are flowers?
Does it matter whether it’s red or yellow?
You see, while you may prefer one color over another, the plant is still a flower.
That’s because it’s a plant that most people want to be among their flowers.
That it happens to be in the wrong place really doesn’t matter.
As far as they’re concerned, it’s still a legitimate flower.
What do flowers and weeds have to do with distractions?
You’ve probably had enough chat about flowers and weeds, and you’re ready to learn about distractions.
What do these things have to do with one another?
Distractions are like flowers
Just as flowers are plants that we want in our gardens, there are also certain activities in our lives, our businesses, and so on, that are legitimate.
They’re things that we should do.
Quite often they are things that we’d prefer to do.
But sometimes, they’re a complete waste of time.
If you were asked if you wanted to do any of them while you were doing something you really enjoyed, you’d be incredulous.
You’d be surprised that anyone could make such a suggestion.
The thing is that quite often they’re things that you need to do and even have planned to do because you want to do them, and yet when the actual time arrives, you do something else instead.
In other words, you’re distracted.
For example, you know that you should be focused on Activities A or B; but then C, D and the rest of the alphabet show up.
They, too, are things that you would like to do, even things that you ought to do.
In the grand scheme of things, however, they are of lesser importance.
They don’t have to be done now.
If they’re of lesser importance, then why are you drawn to them?
Why can’t you just ignore the urge to do them, rather than the things you know you ought to do?
Distractions are legitimate activities
Short of doing that which is illegal, immoral, or unethical, one reason why you’re distracted is that that which you feel pulled towards is a perfectly legitimate activity.
Email, social media, getting a haircut, loading the dishwasher and even rearranging your office are all legitimate activities.
So is cleaning the stove, doing the laundry, or making enough room in your garage for the car.
Rarely, however, do any of these things have to be done at the same time as when you planned to work on your business.
In other words, unless water is leaking out of the pipes and flooding the house, you probably don’t need to do anything in the kitchen or the laundry room.
And unless there’s a weather watch for golf ball-sized hail, then you probably don’t need to put your car in the garage.
The truth of the matter is that only on very rare occasions are the things that we get distracted to do necessary to deal with an imminent or impending emergency.
Creating new products, writing your daily email, and driving traffic are the most important things that you do in a given day, and anything short of an emergency doesn’t matter now.
Distractions sneak up on you.
You can happily be engaged in something unimportant and not even realize that you’re doing it because you got distracted.
It’s that subtle.
So how do you know when you’re distracted?
You know you’re distracted when you find yourself using the time you had set aside for your business to do other legitimate activities.
Another way is if you feel compelled to just check something before you start your work.
When something that you know to be of lesser importance suddenly seems like the most important use of your time, then you need to ask yourself if you’re being distracted.
In the vast majority of cases, it will be because you are.
That’s why I call distractions the weeds of your mind.
They’re flowers in the wrong place.
They’re a yellow tulip in a bed of red ones.
They’re things that in the right context are fine, but in the wrong one are out of place.
How do you get your distractions under control?
You get your distractions under control by doing two things.
The first is to do everything in the order of what is most important according to your deadlines.
If you have no deadlines, then create them.
A daily email, for example, has to be done every day.
Nothing else is allowed until it’s done.
If you’re working on a new product, then you have to decide how much time you’ll spend on it each week, and how much time to give it each day so that it will add up to that amount of time by Friday, if your workweek began on Monday.
And you have to hold yourself accountable for doing that.
Few people have the discipline to do this.
That’s one reason why they get coaches.
That said, there’s no reason why you have to be like everyone else, right?
The second thing is to reward yourself for doing the most important things with a little time to spend on the less important things.
We’re distracted because of the reward we get for having done it rather than our work.
We may feel good for having made a lot of progress, but if you’re not advancing as quickly as you would like, then the “feel good” hormones aren’t released as often.
Activities such as social media cause those hormones to be released, which is why they can become somewhat addictive.
This happens because we get almost immediate feedback.
When you’re working at home on something that no one understand but you, you can go for days and not get much feedback.
On social media, you can get much more and get it almost immediately.
And that’s what you get addicted to it.
So, do what’s most important first and then reward yourself with what is less important.
The less important stuff will still get done.
It won’t niggle away in the back of your mind day-in and day-out.
You will make progress on your most important work, too.
You’ll appreciate the flowers much more when you remove the weeds.