3 Easy Ways to Control the Moments That Hijack Your Day
Three seconds ago, you had a Moment of Choice.
You had to decide if you were going to click and read this article or not.
Chances are you didn’t pause and say to yourself, “Hmmm, this is a Moment of Choice; what’s my decision? What am I going to choose to do?” Instead, without even thinking, you clicked. And here you are. (Thank you for that.)
This was not your first Moment of Choice of the day, nor will it be your last.
Moments of Choice constantly show up in your life. They are the decision points where you have to choose whether you will do one thing or something else. And often, that something else has the potential to hijack your time.
For example, you will encounter a Moment of Choice when you finish a Zoom call, and it’s time to start writing an email to a client. You could immediately begin working on outlining the email points, or you could decide that it’s an excellent time to see what’s happening on Instagram.
What’s your decision?
Later, while focusing on drafting a report, do you drop everything to check a phone notification or continue writing until the draft is complete? Do you choose to go for a run with a friend or hunker down and watch Netflix at the end of the workday?
Moments of Choice happen so often throughout your day that you probably don’t consciously notice them. And you probably aren’t aware of how often you default to the decisions that feel the best in the moment.
This is precisely why time gets wasted, projects don’t get started or finished, and procrastination sets in.
Happily, it doesn’t have to be this way. You have more control over your Moments of Choice than you might think. Try using one of the following three steps to master these decision points and save your day.
Recognize, Eliminate, Automate
Become aware of and acknowledge Moments of Choice as they show up in your day.
Taking the briefest of seconds to identify and tell yourself, “this is a Moment of Choice,” will help you to be more conscious of the decision you need to make.
For example, if you know that a moment of checking social media can quickly turn into 20 minutes of mindless surfing, tell yourself before you log in, “this is a Moment of Choice.” You now have the opportunity to stop yourself from going down a digital rabbit hole.
A familiar Moment of Choice occurs when you sit down to work after you’ve been away from your desk. Maybe you’ve been at lunch or in a meeting or just taking a break, but as you return, you are confronted with a Moment of Choice: what should you start working on next? Your decision determines how much you get done (or don’t get done) in the next 30–60 minutes.
If you recognize that this Moment of Choice can and will occur, you can plan around it.
Before you walk away from your desk, grab a sticky note and write out, in order, the five things you are going to take care of when you return. Put the note where you will see it when you get back, so you immediately know what to start working on. There’s no chance for Moment of Choice to take you off track.
When you recognize Moments of Choice, you are better equipped to make better decisions.
In the second step, you work to eliminate the causes of your Moments of Choice, so you no longer have to rely on your energy and willpower to consciously ignore or reject them.
A prime Moment of Choice occurs when a notification pops up on any of your devices. Do you immediately check it? Do you act on it? Then do you automatically return to what you were doing?
Chances are, you do check, you do act, and you’d don’t automatically return to what you were doing. Studies show it takes, on average, 23 minutes for us to return to our task once we are distracted. This means each of your notification decisions has the power to potentially destroy your day.
Eliminate digital Moments of Choice by turning off notifications of all kinds, putting you in charge of when you check for new information. Put your devices in a different room or turn them off when you need to be working. Put blockers on your devices to prevent you from deciding to quickly check a website or app when you are focusing on something else.
Eliminate beginning of the day Moments of Choice by taking 10 minutes at the end of each workday to put together a schedule for the next day. You’ll be able to start the day without having to make any decisions, and you’ll know precisely what to do and when. This means you’ll be able to go from task to task without having to pause and think about what to do next.
Take a hard look at what Moments of Choice occur for you and eliminate any options to participate in them.
Finally, automate your Moments of Choice.
Rather than hoping you make the right decision when Moments of Choice appear, use automation to keep you on the right track.
For example, saving money. The decision to spend money or save it for the future is a Moment of Choice we often fail.
So, take away the option of spending when you should be saving.
Instead of hoping you’ll be good when the time comes to save money, automate the process. Set up a plan to automatically transfer money from your checking into a savings account every payday. Start using an online bank like Qapital that rounds up every transaction to the next dollar and puts the change into an account for you.
Automate your food choices when you eat out by always ordering the second salad or the third sandwich, or the fourth entree on the menu.
Automate your downtime choices by paying in advance for any type of activity you want to participate in, whether it’s a concert, a workshop, or a sporting event.
Automate your workout by signing up for group classes or joining an organized group with scheduled activities.
Automate your morning by planning out your clothing choices for the week, so there’s no Moment of Choice decision making when you’re still trying to wake up.
Begin noticing where Moments of Choice show up in your day and take steps to master them.
The fewer Moments of Choice you have to deal with, the less decision-making you have to do. Start Recognizing, Eliminating, or Automating your Moments of Choice so you can stay on track, overcome procrastination, and get things done.