you are just about to settle down to read a good book and take some much deserved time to yourself when your pocket vibrates. out of habit and the reaction to the adrenaline that has just entered your system - you reach for your phone. the email is a friend asking to change a date you had set to meet for her birthday supper. you email back that tuesday is fine and then go to your datebook to add the new item. while there you realize that you have a meeting on tuesday morning that you still haven't printed the presentation for. anxiety creeps in and you set down the book to get your computer to find the presentation and print it (after all, you are thinking about it so you might as well just do it). once the computer goes on you open the presentation, but realize you still have to find the author of the quote you are going to use and you go on the world wide web. in looking for the quote's author, you see a cool website with some amazing art. you click and your there. this reminds you you still need to buy a frame for that photo you are giving your friend for her birthday on tuesday night. so you put the computer aside, but leave it on so you can come back and finish the presentation when you get back home. you drive to the store...... hopefully by now, you get the point. the day has passed and you haven't taken anytime for yourself to relax and unwind and may not have even finished a few other things you set out to do along the way.
i hear so many people say they have ADD and i always think to myself that in this world we take part in, it is hard not to. there are distractions around every minute of every day. we live on a rush of adrenaline and even though many of us may not be aware of it, we are constantly seeking ways to initiate that rush. that buzz in our pockets makes us feel important and so we immediately tend to it. that co-worker calling us to ask us a work related questions gives us a sense of self-worth because we know the answer and they are relying on us and so we take the call even if it's at the expense of staying aware and focused on the current project. we don't sit down and use the hour we had put aside for writing or drawing or reading or whatever fills your soul, because that never ending to-do list is staring at you and saying you have no right with all of these other things that need to get done.
but what would happen if you focused on the ONE thing in front of you without multitasking; without being distracted? might you actually finish your work a little earlier? might you make your child feel like he was the most important thing in your world (since at that moment you may be his most important thing in his)? might you find that after taking 1 hour to read, your mind is more sharp and you can focus and finish that presentation and feel proud of it since you have put your full attention and awereness there?
i can't answer that question for anybody else, but i have been playing a lot lately with trying to side step the stream of distractions that is constantly coming my way. example: i have been writing since i came out of the womb, but i have rarely shared any of my writing with others. i am scared by what they will think. i often feel that i may not have anything to contribute with my words. i am intimidated by putting a time on it and being accountable to others who expect to see it. so i choose to move directly into the line of that which i do not want to do - i started a newsletter. for the past two months i have thought about topics that i could choose and even set aside time on my calendar in which to begin writing so that i can brainstorm ideas and have time to play with the material, research and approach it as a fun thing to do. each time the set time approaches i suddenly have to reschedule it to accommodate actual paid work or i start to write, but my phone buzzes in my pocket and i'm off to the races on anything but my newsletter. today, i am finally sitting down to accomplish the project i've dragged out over 3 weeks and i refuse to let anything distract me. ohhhhh, things sure are trying, but i am trying a new approach to life which is to not let them!!! i want to put out the best newsletter i can and already feel amazed at the fact that i am actually going to accomplish this task and i will be able to go about the rest of my day, my weekend feeling lighter. i have inhabited each moment of the past hour of my life. and little by little i am able to do that more. the more i am able to do this, the more happiness i find in my life.
another reason to be careful/aware of all of the distractions in your life it that they can stop you from reaching your fullest potential. not only by preventing you from investing everything into that project, that moment, that phone call - but also that you may be so busy with the "other" things that you are not listening to what your heart and soul are telling you they need. whether that is a career change, time for creativity, spending more time with an intimate partner, or any mirad of things it may be for you personally.... if you ignore the distractions and slow down a bit, maybe you will hear these things calling. maybe you will follow through with what your heart and soul ask you for. and maybe, just maybe you too will find more meaning and happiness in your life.
a few suggestions if i may be so bold:
*try to schedule time when you return calls and emails. instead of doing it the moment they arrive, turn off your sound and even vibrate mode, invest completely in the project(s) you are focused on for a set amount of time (say 2 hours) and then take 20 minutes to answer calls and emails.
*if you know you are the sharpest/most productive in the first few hours of the day, get up and don't look at anything and invest those hours in your writing, the building of your yoga business (this is for me!), or whatever project you want to start doing for you.
*you could also schedule your lunch hour and find a room with no distractions and do what you need to do.
*maybe you wake up an extra hour early to insure the time for yourself before the kid's wake up.
*if a to-do comes into your head and is preventing you from focusing on your current project, take 30 seconds write it down on a piece of paper and then return to your project knowing that the to-do is there waiting for you and you will not forget.
* if you are going out somewhere for a few hours - leave your phone at home. you may have anxiety about it the first few times you do it, but it gets easier and amazingly freeing. the more i do it, the more i look for the opportunities when i can!
****schedule time for yourself and stick to it. put it in your calendar/date book and treat it as important as the other items on your calendar.
i'm sure there are so many more, but you get the picture. and if it's too much to change at once, take baby steps and implement one thing at a time. we have a lifetime!!!
Happiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions — Saul Bellow