Managing Self Planning Practice Management

Dealing with Distractions

Written by Allison Wolf

Distractions! Don’t these drive you crazy?

It’s hard enough to get through the pile of work without the endless stream of emails, text messages, phone calls, and colleagues coming into our office with questions.

If you haven’t got your priorities worked out, and a plan for your day, it is easy to get pushed off course.

Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and the forthcoming Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life says that if you don’t plan your day, someone else will.

Nir says that when people tell him they got distracted he asks them what they were distracted from. What he often discovers is they had no plan for the day, and no time blocked in the calendar for their priorities.

Nir recommends a strategy that comes from very well-established research called setting an implementation intention, which in plain English means having a plan for what you are going to do and when you’re going to do it.

I apply this principle in two ways. First, I have the precise next steps on my to-do list. Second, I block time in my calendar for working without distractions on my priorities.

Some people go one step further and block time in the calendar for a specific task. It’s up to you which approach you choose, or you can do a combination of both.

Another essential step is the weekly meeting with yourself to review the list of urgent and upcoming tasks and projects.

I do this big picture planning once or twice a week, and every morning create a daily list of priority tasks to attend to.

Working from home I don’t have to worry about interruptions from colleagues, but if that is a frequent issue at your office, try posting a sign on your door as one lawyer I know does.

If you want to get better at dealing with distractions here are your next steps: Get clear on your priorities. Plan your week and your day. Use your calendar to block out time for what matters. Create boundaries to stop the rest of the world from taking control of your time. And get to work!

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.

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