How to Eliminate Distractions

When it comes to productivity, smartphones, negativity and social media could be your downfall.

Everything demands your attention. Today, devices, email and social media all vie for your heed at any given moment. The cost of these distractions to your personal and professional lives is well documented. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine found that it takes a typical office worker 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption, and an experiment by the authors of The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success found that work interruptions decreased accuracy by 20 percent.

There are other, less evident distractions, too. Surrounding yourself with negative people has been shown to influence weight gain, smoking and even your likelihood of divorce.

Take these steps to slash cognitive and emotional distractions, increase focus and thrive:

1. Stop digital pressures.

Carve out blocks of time—whether for work, exercise or people you care about—and turn off your phone and computer. Download the free app SelfControl, which shuts off especially distracting websites such as social media or news pages for a set period of time.

2. Give yourself frequent breaks.

Just because you can work 24/7 doesn’t mean your mind or body are designed to do so.

3. Mind your physical health.

Exercise, plenty of sleep, healthy eating and all of those things you know you’re supposed to do promote mental health and focus.

4. Turn off smartphone notifications.

Limit the number of times per day you check and respond to email, texts and social media. Remove the temptation to constantly keep an eye on these pests.

5. Knock out the most dreaded duties first thing in the morning.

Have a difficult email you must send? Bills to manage? Need to initiate a difficult conversation? Get it off your to-do list and out of your mind, freeing you to be productive.

6. Eliminate or minimize negative people in your life.

These are people who play the victim, are stuck in unhealthy habits, or generally make you feel drained or bad about yourself. Surround yourself with those who are positive, focused, productive and ambitious. Remember the late iconic speaker Jim Rohn’s rule: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”


“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

To Succeed Under Pressure, Focus on the Experience

Coach Wooden used his definition of success not just as a mantra for life, but also as a means to improve performance: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”

“A coach can only do his best, nothing more,” he explained. “But he does owe that not only to himself but to the people who employ him and to the youngsters under his supervision. If you truly do your best—and only you will really know—then you are successful and the actual score is immaterial whether it was favorable or unfavorable. However, when you fail to do your best, you have failed even though the score might’ve been to your liking.”


Doing the best that you’re capable of doing is victory in itself.


Simply feeling good about one’s effort, though, is not enough to be effective, Coach explained. “This does not mean that you should not coach to win. You must teach your players to play to win and do everything in your power that is ethical and honest to win. I do not want players who do not have a keen desire to win and do not play hard and aggressively to accomplish that objective. But I want to be able to feel and want my players to sincerely feel that doing the best that you’re capable of doing is victory in itself and less than that is defeat.”

He added, “It is altogether possible that whatever success I have had or may have could be in direct proportion to my ability not only to instill that idea in my players but also to live up to it myself.” This philosophy served Coach well not only in helping to pull together his teams, but also in inspiring the individuals who played for him to concentrate on real success within their own lives and pursuits.

For example, Rafer Johnson was a UCLA basketball player from 1958 to 1959, and the gold medal winner in the 1960 Olympics decathlon. An incredibly talented athlete in his own right, when Johnson first arrived at UCLA from the small town of Kingsburg, California, he was overwhelmed and intimidated by the big city campus and the level of competition he was facing.

Everything changed, however, as soon as Johnson took to the court for basketball practice. “Coach Wooden said all he wanted from us individually was that we try as athletes and students, to be as good as we could be,” Johnson recalls. Coach urged his players to focus on giving their all to the team and to their own development as players and as people.


“Don’t worry about the other guy; just concentrate on doing your best.”


From that day forward, Johnson changed his perspective and found it influenced everything else for the better. “My subsequent performance in the 1960 Olympics, held in Rome, had a lot to do with Coach’s philosophy of concentrating on being the best I could be,” he said. “Don’t worry about the score, the medal, the prize; don’t worry about the other guy; just concentrate on doing your best. It’s that simple.”

Rather than focusing on winning, Coach urged his players—and himself—to focus on growing in the sport and working with an “all-in” mindset that valued the experience more than the outcome. The result was an unparalleled career that included 10 NCAA Championships (seven of which were consecutive) and 38 consecutive sudden-death NCAA tournament victories.

When the external pressure was the greatest, neither Coach nor his players allowed that external pressure to impact their performance. They were only concerned with their best and that was something over which they had control. As Coach was fond of saying: “The more concerned we become over the things we can’t control, the less we will do with the things we can control.”

How Successful People Think

I believe there’s a huge difference in the way successful people and unsuccessful people think. And I believe that success itself is not some big mystery that people haven’t figured out before. Even though when we’re struggling and fighting and trying to make it day by day to get better, it can feel like this arduous un-noble process. Success has been figured out—and it’s a mindset game.

Most of success is just about how we use our psychology.

I remember when I was starting my business and I really wanted to be good at it. I was trying to become an author and a speaker, and people were saying you may or may not be successful with that. I thought, It’s not like there’s a trait of successful people.

You look across history at successful people and they aren’t from a given background. They don’t come from a specific economic stature. They aren’t in a position where they are of one or another demographic; it’s all over. We have thousands of collective years of history. Some people succeed, some don’t, and I think it comes down to how we manage our mind and our days.

I think there’s a difference between successful and unsuccessful people in the way they particularly think about approaching something new. I think unsuccessful people, when they have a big dream and start thinking about what’s going to be required to accomplish that dream, they get very limiting in their beliefs about themselves and what’s possible.

They say three types of things specifically:

  • “I don’t know how to do that.” So they stop.
  • “I don’t have those things. I’m not like those people.” So they stop.
  • “I’m not like that.” So they stop.

Successful people have a different way.


The challenge is that unsuccessful people keep stopping when they think of what they currently know, have or are.


Everybody dreams. You dream, I dream, successful people dream. Everybody dreams and has a vision. Everyone, if we could just take five minutes and think about their lives, we could all come up with ways to improve our lives and reach another level of success, joy, happiness, achievement, contribution, fulfillment and soul. We can all elevate. The challenge is that unsuccessful people keep stopping when they think of what they currently know, have or are.


However, successful people say, “I want to do that, but I don’t know how,” and instead of stopping, they say, “Then my job is to go learn that.” They take their current limitation and put it on their agenda as a job to do, as a thing to figure out and make happen. Instead of saying, “I don’t have that,” they say, “Then my job is to go build that.” Instead of saying “I’m not like that,” they say, “My job is to go become more of that, become that person who could accomplish those things.”

When I was starting to do online marketing for the first time, I was literally bankrupt. I went from a place of bankruptcy to the point where I really committed to becoming successful at it. And in 18 months, I made $4.6 million. It was a huge leap.

What created that breakthrough wasn’t that I had new opportunities or new technology, like, “Wow, there’s the internet now!” Those things were already there. I went from one level of thinking to the next level of thinking:

  • I used to say, “I don’t know how to build a web page,” so I wrote an agenda that said, “Figure out how to build a web page.” I spent hours, nights and weekends on my job, figuring out how to do that.
  • I used to say, “I don’t have one of those lists, no subscribers and nobody knows who I am.” So I said, “Job: Go build a list, get subscribers, add value and content into the marketplace, and they’ll come.”

Keep putting stuff out there. I also didn’t say, “I have that dream, but I can’t have that because I’m not like that.” I wasn’t a public speaker and didn’t know how to do video. So I thought, I have to go learn that art and become a better speaker, a better communicator. I have to become more confident. I have to become a person capable of doing these things. I have to change myself to get there. I can’t wait for circumstances to change so I can have my dream. If that was the case, our dreams would never happen.

We have to get to the point of maturity in our lives where we say two things are going to change my life:

  1. Something new is going to come into my life and make me lucky and blessed. But maybe I can’t count on that forever.
  2. So maybe now, instead, I have to consciously design my life. If I want to change and want my dream, then something new has to come from me. I’m going to become a better person. I’m going to become a person who is more optimistic, more confident and more driven, not because I am that now, but because I can grow.

You can become the type of person who you need to be to achieve your ideal life. You can start today, living from your highest ideals, your highest and strongest sense of self.

At some point in your life, you have to give yourself permission to become your best self. And by becoming your best self, you start to achieve your best things. You start to contribute better things. You start to become a better human being. You can do that now, today.


At some point in your life, you have to give yourself permission to become your best self.


The next time you’re thinking about a big dream, stop and think, I don’t know how, and then set it up on your calendar to go learn those things. I don’t have that. Then set it up to build that. I’m not like that. Then set it up step by step to develop the skillsets and competencies you need so you can become that and ultimately achieve your dream.

It’s there and waiting for you; don’t stop!