Last Sunday I was lucky enough to attend “An Evening with John Cleese” at Cambridge Arts Theatre.  Other than being truly insightful and providing many laughs, something he said really resonated with me, and I had to share it with all of you.

The second half of the show was dedicated to Q&A, with the opportunity for audience members to ask whatever burning questions they had.  One person asked him how he came up with new material, and Mr Cleese confessed that he actually had to take himself off to avoid distraction.  Last winter he took a hotel room in Sydney for four months, in order to write his book.  His actual words were “distractions kill creativity” and I couldn’t agree more.

How many times have you got to the end of a busy day, but feel you have nothing to show for it?

How many times do things simply not get done, despite you feeling like you’re on a hamster wheel that won’t stop turning?

I know this has been a problem for me for a long time.  I spend the whole day doing “stuff” – it’s not like I take naps or watch daytime TV – and yet many of the big ticket items I’d hoped to achieve (blog posts, marketing pieces etc) remain unfinished.

So where does the time go?

The simple answer is that it gets swallowed up by distractions:  Emails, text messages, social media.  But it’s not just mindless browsing of one’s Facebook newsfeed that’s to blame…  It’s the compulsion to check things all the time, largely owing to the rise of smartphones.  John Cleese was laughing about how people hear the beep of an incoming text or email and literally have to check their phone.  The thought of ignoring the new message sitting in their inbox actually induces feelings of anxiety.  It’s crippling!

The most worrying thing about his observation is that I can completely identify with it, and I’m sure the above scenario sounds familiar to many of you.  Quite simply, it’s not healthy to constantly be surrounded by “noise”, and it is most certainly not productive.

I can vouch for this because I just returned from a week in Turkey and, as it was my first week off this year, I decided to totally disconnect myself from the outside world:  No emails.  No phone.  No social media.  Bliss!  Not only did I come back feeling utterly refreshed and rested, but I also read four books.  Normally there would be far too many distractions to read that volume.  But once I got home, I had so many emails and messages to respond to, as well as my usual daily tasks, that it’s taken me 10 days to finally get round to writing this blog!

So it’s a lesson learned:  When there are important tasks to be accomplished, turn the phone off, disconnect from the internet and then get your head down.

You might be wondering how this relates to your health and fitness, but I’m hoping it’s pretty obvious really…

Failure to get things done creates stress.
Chronic stress is bad for your health.
It’s as simple as that.

When we’re stressed we tend to make poor food choices, we struggle to exercise, our sleep is disrupted and we’re less pleasant to be around (you know that’s the truth!).

It’s worth coming back to John Cleese’s original comment:

“Distractions kill creativity.”

This does apply directly to your nutrition and exercise programme too.  Think about it…  It’s really common to decide that you want to improve your health.  But rather than just cracking on and heading out for a walk, you while the hours away “researching” things on the internet, following #cleanrecipes on Twitter, or trawling Mumsnet for a useful thread on exercising with small children.

In my opinion, this is frankly giving yourself too much information, too much noise, and too much DISTRACTION.  Sometimes you’ve just got to DO!

You’ll produce far greater results and create a far healthier lifestyle if you spend a few minutes a day to yourself, limit the time you spend checking your phone and emails, and actually start doing what you want to do.

If you do need some guidance then seek the help of a coach – like me. 🙂