Identifying and Mitigating Pain Points
“You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one”
As the ship sailed full speed ahead, little did they know that they were headed in the wrong direction. Ever feel like that? You’re giving 110% but not getting anywhere? You’ve got no sense of direction and nothing to mark your small wins every day? I feel that way all too many times but here is what I’ve learned.
What are ‘Pain Points’?
Pain points are simply tasks, habits, relationships or biases that are holding you back or causing you discomfort and stress. Pain points are the things that cause us, well…. pain. These things are often easily mitigated and looked after through the cultivation of a few simple disciplines. Depending on your pain points, you should find it quite easy to identify them and soon eliminate them. The best way to do this is to get a blank sheet of paper and be brutally honest with yourself. Below is a picture of some of the pain points that I find in my life. I try to help myself understand how the correlate with one another.
Lets take the ‘choice effect’ as an example. The choice effect is one that causes everyone stress, wasted time and energy and it is more dominant today than ever before. With a constant feed of breaking news, news feeds on social media and information coming through as push notifications, the choice effect is one we can’t avoid. Or can we? Of course we can. For example; implementing a simple strategy, we can rid ourselves of much of the distractions that make us unproductive and unhappy. The constant search for instant gratification is one that idea that will always lead us to check Instagram, reply to emails or just see does anyone want to interact with us. We do this for 10 minutes and then repeat multiple times per day or even per hour. This usually happens before we have a difficult, uncomfortable task to do. This habit can be easily broken by setting yourself a period of time each day for no technology, or taking walks without technology, or doing absolutely anything without technology. The truth is, books or things that don’t stimulate us rarely distract us and technology seems to be the reoccurring point of distraction.
Perhaps you’re in a relationship but scanning Instagram is one thing that allows you to dream and think about how much greener the grass is on the other side. It rarely is, but that’s for another time… Again, this simple idea is one that happens a lot of us and by being flawed humans, it always will. With social media, this process speeds up dramatically but we can put systems in place to mitigate the constant whirlwind of thoughts and distractions which will ultimately, lead us to a better more productive life.
Strategies and Systems
I have tried to implement certain systems that allow me to forget about distractions and have a singular focus most of the time. There is a list of these below.
- Routines – “Routine in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition” W. H. Auden – Routines are a simple way to get rid of distraction. Like the distractions themselves, routines are replacing something with something else but this time replacing the worse with the better.
- Discipline – Although this one is much less sustainable, it can come in handy in times of difficulty. Routines allow us to go into auto-pilot and be productive quite easily. If we rely on discipline all the time, we will wear ourselves down and eventually burn out.
- Positive constraints – i.e. committing to things that will stop you from doing other things. For example, committing to bringing the kids somewhere on a Sunday morning to keep you out of the bar on a Saturday night.
- Gratitude – By being grateful, we don’t have time for distractions. Make a routine of saying thanks many times per day. Thank you.
- Journaling – Writing three things I want to get done each day. Journaling about my thoughts and doing exercises like identifying pain points.
The next time you find a reoccurring pain point in your life, make sure to eliminate it immediately by applying a structure that will allow you to do so.
Hope this helps,