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Distractions. Those pesky little things you find yourself doing when you’re supposed to be working. Once you identify the time suck in your schedule, what do you do about it?

My gut reaction was to just cut them out of my life cold turkey. I was just going to never indulge in those distractions again and would be nothing but productive from here on out. Sound familiar?

Yeah, it doesn’t work, does it? Why?

Think of dieting. You decide you’re going to lose wait and decide to quit all your favorite unhealthy foods. You’re good for a few days and then you decide that you deserve a little cheating because you’ve been so good so you start to let a few of those foods back in. The next thing you know it, you’ve binged on all your favorites because you missed them so much and you’re worse off than you started.

It’s the same way with distractions.

Once you know what is keeping you from work, instead of cutting those things out of your life completely, give them their own time and place. You’ll still be able to enjoy them but in moderation.

After all, that’s how a good diet works, isn’t it? You still eat all the foods you love, you just have them in reasonable portions.

Let’s use the universal time sucker, Facebook, as an example. How many of us Facebook addicts end up checking it over and over unconsciously without even thinking about what we’re doing? All those quick glances start to add up after a while and we end up losing a huge chunk of time when we could be productive to Facebook.

Instead of cutting it out of your life, instead make it a treat. You’re allowed to spend as much time as you like on the site but only when you specifically take a break. Not only will you end up spending less time on the distractions overall (because it’ll be confined to that break time instead of spread out throughout your entire day) but you’ll also enjoy it more. I may feel guilty for reading about the Muppets when I should be working but I find myself enjoying it more when I’ve set it aside as a reward for my break time.

You’ll likely discover that, while you always had time for a certain distraction while you were trying to work, you never seem to find time for it on your breaks. That’s because free time is precious and a good way to prioritize the things you really enjoy versus the things you do out of habit. Once you move distractions into their own time and place, you may find it easier to decide which ones are a needed release and which are truly just time suck.

How do you deal with distractions and make yourself get down to work?