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How to Get Stuff Done When You’re Constantly Distracted

If you’re anything like me (and of course you are ‘cuz why else would you be here), you know exactly what it feels like to start the day with a super organized to-do list.

“Yeah, I’m gonna get so much done. This’ll be my most productive day of all time. Woo hoo!”

But then something happens to derail your perfect plan. Let’s call it “life.”

For me, it’s tough to get stuff done when I’m constantly distracted.

  • Skyla wants out. Then she wants back in. Then she wants to sit inside but keep the back door open so she can watch and smell the goings-on in the yard. This leads to the house being full of wasps. Again.
  • The maid service arrives and decides to sing showtunes off-key while flushing the toilets a minimum of a hundred times each.
  • I receive an ALL CAPS (!!!) urgent email from one of my private clients that needs immediate attention.
  • The neighbors across the street are having a contest to see who can rev their motorcycles the loudest.
  • Right when I’m about to create the most brilliant blog post in the world, my inner critic decides to remind me about all the embarrassing things I’ve done in the past 10 years.
  • And on and on…

Granted, I’m very blessed and lucky to be able to work from home and set my own hours. But man, some days I can barely cross one thing off my to-do list.

Since the distractions weren’t going to magically disappear, I knew I had to find a way to make progress and, you know, run a business.

I recently started breaking all of my projects and every single to-do item into 10-minute chunks.

If a blog post normally takes an hour, then I’d break it into six 10-minute tasks such as write the outline, fill in the content, edit it, upload it to my website, proof it, and schedule it.

I work with a timer and race the clock to complete each task within the 10 minutes I give it. A surprising benefit has been getting to feel the energy of completion every 10 minutes instead of working for hours and hours without any sense of progress.

And if a dreaded distraction pops up while I’m in the middle of my blog post or other task, I can easily find my way back on track.

Funnily, I’ve heard that this is how many stay-at-home moms operate because they rarely get even 10 minutes before their kids need something.

Ready to break down your projects, overcome your distractions, and become a productivity machine? Here’s how to do it!

The Break It On Down Technique

  • Grab your massive to-do list, planner, Post-It notes, scribbled-on napkins, and anything else that has your action items.
  • Choose your 3 main priorities for the day, no matter how big and scary they might seem.
  • Break down each priority into 10-minute chunks.
  • Get to work and enjoy the fact that you’ll get everything done even if you face a million distractions.

How do you get stuff done when you’re distracted?

In the comments below, share your best productivity tips.

This post focuses on Step 4 of the Life Editing Process, Rearrange Everything Into a Perfect Flow. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

9 Comments

  1. Erika on June 14, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    This is brilliant, Sage! I’m going to try this out this week. Thanks for sharing this 10-minute trick.



  2. janet on June 9, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Downloaded the Ultimate To-Do List and filled out my plan to get three things accomplished/started this week. I love how it made me focus on what was most important. I feel less panicky already that I am at least proceeding forward and have a plan. Forward is good.



    • Sage Grayson on June 10, 2015 at 10:41 am

      You can do it, Janet! 🙂



  3. Lisa on June 9, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Love this! Going to begin to implement this tomorrow, and I downloaded your Ultimate To-Do List and am excited to try that! Thank you!



  4. Dana Lynn Thompson on June 9, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Oh man! I need to use this technique to get my masters paper written! I Have 7 weeks to go and it’s so easy to get distracted when it’s something you just don’t want to do! Never did cleaning seem like such a good idea! LOL!



    • Sage Grayson on June 9, 2015 at 10:13 am

      Haha, I start cleaning too when I’m avoiding something! You can do this–10 minutes of progress is still progress.



  5. Ashley on June 8, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Oh man, are you looking into my living room and reading my mind right now? Once the weather gets nice, my focus is out the window (pun intended)! Thanks for the post. Baby steps!



    • Sage Grayson on June 8, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Yes! The weather is so nice, and I just want to be outside. Baby steps help me inch through my to-do list.