Know Your Triggers!

Even though I am a motivational speaker, claiming to have the answers to peace and productivity (okay – so maybe not the answers – maybe just the right questions), I am sadly behind in many areas of my life. Good thing I don’t speak on being perfect! And one area I need to work on, is dealing with distractions – things that distract me from the task at hand – or things that distract me from being happy. And so I am in the process of learning my triggers.

What is a trigger? Something that tends to distract me on a recurring basis. They exist. They have always existed. But I never looked for them. So I just went through life falling into their trap – over and over and over. Well, enough is enough. I may be a slow learner – but eventually I get it. It’s time to see what my common triggers are and be aware of them so that I don’t fall so easily the next time.

And today I’m thinking about two kinds of distractions – distractions to my daily list of things that must be done – and distractions to my emotional well-being. So I’m going to make two separate lists and share them with you. Your list won’t be the same – but perhaps it will trigger you to find what’s distracting you.

(Note: If you don’t have a clear idea of what you need to get done on a daily basis, then that’s part of your problem. How can you recognize what’s blocking your list of things to do, if you don’t have a clear list of things to do?)

Productivity Distraction Triggers And How To Handle Them

  • Facebook
    While posting on Facebook is something I do as part of my business, I find myself spending wasted hours attending virtual parties and new births. This is a big distraction, and really takes me off task, leaving me wondering what happened to my day, and neglecting things that were more important.  So from now on, I’m going to recognize that Facebook is a trigger – and be aware when I am letting it get me off task. I will save Facebook surfing for later in the evening – or after all the other important stuff is done.
  • Phone Calls
    My family seems to think that “work from home” means “always available and not really working.” And so they will call me at 9am to ask me if I saw Idol. I love my family, and communicating with them is high on my list of values – but so is making a living. And 9am is NOT the time when I should be talking to my family – but the time to be making sales calls. So that’s a trigger. I must find a way to make sure I don’t have conversations with my family during business hours, unless it’s an emergency. (And what happened to my mother when she was caught eating grapes in the produce section is not an emergency, unless bail is necessary – and even then.) Now just knowing this is a problem, won’t fix the problem. I have to figure out how to handle personal calls during work hours. If call screening is available, then I will just let it go to voice mail, listen to message, and handle later if possible. If I can’t screen the call, then I will answer, tell them how happy I am to hear their voice, but unless it’s an emergency, I have to take personal calls after 5pm. And then I must enforce this – despite the fact that I know it will start a domino effect of phone calls from mother to sister to sister to neighbor – to talk about how ungrateful I am.
  • What’s In The Fridge?
    I get distracted about every thirty seconds thinking of food – and do I need some. I never realized how much I was snacking, trying not to snack, or thinking about snacking until I started to look for my triggers. So now when I find my mind wandering, I stop. Is it lunch time? Is it snack time? No. And I force myself to get back to work.
Emotional Distraction Triggers And How To Handle Them
  • Facebook
    Yes, I am starting to see a pattern. One nasty comment on Facebook – one political fight – one “can you believe she just said that?” – and daily tasks be darned, I am hooked. Whether I am an avid player, or just a drooling bystander, I have to admit that I have wasted HOURS of valuable work time following comments on Facebook – waiting to see what Jimmy will say when he finds out that Susie just called him trailer trash. Facebook has become my daily soap. And it has to stop. I have to start recognizing the trigger and not letting it distract me. Perhaps it means that I can’t even get on Facebook until evening if that’s what it takes to tear me away.  (Many of us can’t use Facebook at work – but that doesn’t mean we aren’t letting office drama distract us.)
  • Negative Comments That Hurt My Feelings
    I started to call this trigger “online groups” – but it’s not always online. I spend a lot of time in different groups online – groups with common interests. And I have found that there are some groups I just can’t let myself play in anymore because I get my feelings hurt and it hijacks my entire day – or more. Maybe it’s a peer group – and their comments really hit too close to home. Or maybe it’s a group with some toxic people in it who are lurking there waiting to kill my buzz. Whatever the case, I can’t control them – I can only control me by letting them go as soon as I see them. Or just not playing with them anymore since I know I tend to be more sensitive here. This goes for evaluations too. While I value evaluations, one negative comment can distract me for DAYS. I have to find a way to deal with them – read them later – or learn to let them go sooner. I need to see this trigger and not let it affect me. Or maybe it’s just a good old fashioned face-to-face communication that hits me the wrong way. Whether it was intentional or not – it’s a trigger. And I need to acknowledge it.
  • Competitor Comparing
    This one may sound weird to you – but, like I said, this is my list. You will come up with your own. But one trigger that affects my emotional well-being, is when I compare myself to a competitor who I think does it better or gets something I think  I wanted.  I am learning that successful competitors can be triggers for me. And being aware of them is the first step to making sure they don’t distract me. There are things I tell myself when I feel that jealousy trigger rear its ugly head. And it works. I am able to let it go – if not right away, at least faster than I used to.
So I hope this discussion of my triggers, will help you find the triggers in your life – the things that distract you from being productive, and being at peace. I think awareness is the first step – and perhaps even the key to removing them altogether. Or maybe you have found this blog post to have only been a distraction from your wacky motivational speaker just trying to find her way back to happier ever after. It certainly won’t be the first time – and probably not even the last.
I wish you all the best, as you find your way back to happier ever after.

Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson - called one of North Carolina's funniest women by Our State Magazine. Kelly lifts the spirits of audiences from coast-to-coast using humor, storytelling, and lives of the characters from Prides Hollow - Kelly's make believe small town. This unique approach to motivational speaking allows Kelly to break through communications barriers and connect directly to the audience's imagination.
Her powerful stories and wacky wit will make you laugh, remind you that you matter, show you how to see beyond your obstacles, and teach you how to stand up and stick out in a crowded market.
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  1. Seeing a post from you is one of my Triggers! I love reading what you share, so feel pulled away from my tasks to check your words of wisdom. Can so relate to the frig. Just had my leftover Paula Dean gooey, caloric-ridden Mac & Cheese leftovers from Easter. Have more triggers, but this motivational speaker has to GET BACK TO WORK! Yes, I’m yelling at myself. Great post, Kelly.

  2. This kind of gives new meaning to “trigger happy” because all of my triggers are fun distractions for me to get lost in.  Too lost for too long.  There was one just now: I heard a lovely “ding” that means that I just received an email.  It’s all I can do not to stop the productive thing I’m doing and check out who it’s from!!  So, Kelly, because of your great post I am going to turn off the sound on incoming emails and simply check in periodically AFTER I’ve completed whatever task I’m on.  Baby steps.

  3. Oh yes. Oh yes. Oh yes, dang it.  My refrigerator has a little person inside who whispers to me every couple of minutes and she’s got a VERY loud voice and it travels all the way over to my office.  How do I shut HER up???  Great post Kelly!

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