When we think of things being at risk of being taken, we often consider key business ideas or vital employees. Stealing ideas is a rarity, particularly nowadays, and people are often poached because they want to leave anyway.
However, there are important and vital things that are being stolen from us everyday. To paraphrase the Stoic philosophers, it's amazing how much we'll fight someone who wants to steal our money, but will be totally passive with someone playing with our mind.
Forget your ideas and your employees. You need to defend your time, your focus and your momentum.
You can't make more hours in the day, but you can become more conscious about how you spend it with others. With my home office, it is ridiculously easy to dedicate my precious time to catching up with fellow freelance colleagues, others wanting advice or general conversations.
Feeling pulled in multiple directions is always a choice. To put it bluntly, either you consciously and consistently decide your focus or someone else will decide it for you. The more hats you wear and the more responsibility you have, the more susceptible you are to losing your own focus because of another person's agenda.
Cal Newport calls it Deep Work. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it as Flow. Things are executed much faster and smarter when whole blocks of time are dedicated to a specific purpose. Diving into someone else's stuff not only disturbs your focus, but can crash any productivity momentum you have going.