I am in the midst of preparing for a presentation I will give today so this post will be short(ish). It may serve as a reminder to myself about how to deal with distractions, and it may also be a distraction from the work I planned to do today… In any case, because I choose to write a blog, and I also choose to keep my day job in order to take care of myself and family, and writing helps keep me sane for the other, I shall proceed.
Sometimes my internal “mental clutter” provides as much or more distraction as the outside influences of the world. Thoughts, emotions, stories I spin about “what ifs” and “this means that” are part of my consciousness can be a challenge. Then the outside: Facebook, social media, two different email boxes (one personal, one at work, and I know most people have more). Messenger apps, WhatsApp (which my international colleagues all tend to use), notifications about “likes” and comments, they are all a constant. Until we stop letting them constantly intrude, and turn them off.
It’s no wonder some of us start our days feeling like we are spinning almost the first moment we wake up. A year ago or so, I realized I had an unhealthy addiction to my phone, notifications, and other electronic brain candy. It began interfering with my sleep and my overall sense of wellbeing and balance, I began to work on setting healthy limits for myself. I no longer check the FB and the socials as soon as I wake up.
I typically enjoy my coffee, my journal and some meditation before opening up the deluge of incoming. Some days I aspire to do this, but I find that a light-hearted podcast, or some other written or auditory inspiration helps me find my center or makes me laugh before I face the challenges of the day. I try to return to the meditation and journal before the workday starts because I notice a distinct difference in the quality of the days in which I give myself this time, and the days I do not.
Most of us have to use a number of communication tools for work, so it can be even more challenging to set aside the distractions and just attend to the task at hand. For those of us who struggle with attention issues, we have to develop strategies to help us focus when that is difficult. It can meaning turning off the Cisco Jabber messaging at work, realizing it is just a tad harder for people to reach me, but helping them understand I need chunks of time to finish a project. It can mean turning off my work email notifications (even harder for me during the workday) or stepping away to take a walk when my brain is buzzing but I am not moving forward.
I think this is one reason the minimalists are getting so much attention these days. What most of us crave is not MORE, it is LESS. We crave quality, not quantity. We crave focus, we crave purpose, we crave not a huge group of friends, but people we can truly trust and who truly move us. We crave less STUFF but more high quality things that help us live our lives peacefully and well. All of these aspirations require healthy boundaries around our space, our time, and our energy. These goals require us to say NO more often, to things that do not serve us, and to make commitments to the activities that give us long-term fulfillment.
Easy in theory, much more difficult in practice. Thus, this may become a theme for a series of posts.
I am interested in what tools or strategies you have used to eliminate distractions in your life, and to focus on what you truly want. If you have some advice for a mexi-minnesotana chica who is just starting to figure this out, I would love to hear it. Please add your comments below. Grateful for your support and your thoughts.