• Stephanie Hinds

Dealing with Distraction

You sit down, you’re ready to write or read, finish your homework, get started on that essay, or whatever the case may be. But then your phone vibrates. The voices in your head tell you to check your email first. Or, my personal favorite, “I can’t work in a dirty room,” and you pick up the only two shirts that were on your floor and begin to dust everything until it’s time for bed, forgetting completely that you had something to do.

Why are we so easily distracted? Why are looming deadlines not enough to scare us into getting something done? More importantly, how do we deal with distraction?

The other day, it was time for a new post and as soon as I came up with the idea, I began writing. I had four internet tabs open, music playing, my television on, and my phone right next to me, both vibrate and ring turned on, and I was logged onto Skype. Everytime I strung a sentence together, I would check Twitter, look for a new song, change the channel, or check my phone, even though it hadn’t vibrated or rung. An hour had passed, and the one page that was supposed to be full of words only had a few. I wasted the last hour of my life on absolutely nothing.

I was pissed. I was mad at iTunes for not playing a proper shuffle set and that I had to keep changing the song. I was mad at my television for stealing my attention away from my writing. I was mad at my phone for requiring me to type in my passcode and never having a message at the end of my touchpad journey. I was mad at Twitter, I was mad at Skype…you get the point.

Then I thought, if I really want to do this, I will. So I got rid of all the distractions. I even disabled my wireless internet connection. I closed all programs and only kept open my word document. It took a few minutes for me to stop staring at the posters and paintings on my wall, and I found myself itching for the converter, but after a few minutes, my focus had been narrowed.

It narrowed so much, in fact, that I was able to apply this revelation to other aspects of life. I thought about all the things I had on my to do list, my bucket list, or my places to discover list. Why had I not done them yet? Why had I not visited those places yet? I thought about all the things that I allowed to dominate my attention, people included.

The lesson here is that there are a million and one things that can get in the way when wanting to do something. These distractions can turn a simple task into something much more time-consuming. The inevitable effect of this lack of time management is a waste of time, literally.

The simplest solution is to start becoming more conscious of what you do while you’re doing something. Are you “multi-tasking”, or are you just doing multiple tasks? Once you recognize and acknowledge bad habits, they become much easier to change.

Moreover, this will help you in the larger scope of things. If you’re trying to graduate, attempting to save money for a car or a condo, trying to write a book, or simply working on making healthier choices, all these tasks require one thing (amongst many others): focus.

Focus isn’t forgetting about everything else you have going on; it’s about properly prioritizing your tasks. Often, the ones we know will take longer to accomplish are the ones we put off, for one reason or another. But of course, I have a quote for a moment like this, and it goes as follows:

“Never give up on a goal because of the time it will take; the time will pass anyway.”

So if you find yourself farther from a goal than you had hoped, look at the things that are distracting you from drawing nearer to it, and eliminate them. Let go of the people that make you feel bad when you say no to hanging out with them, because you promised yourself you would create another painting instead. Let go of the excuses you make that stop you from doing something; like opening up an untouchable savings account because you’d rather spend money on food instead, even if it’s “only ten dollars a week”. Let go of all the voices in and outside of your head that tell you to “put it off until tomorrow.” And let go of the reasons you feel you can’t do it. Because you can, and you surely deserve to.

Labels: bad habits, distraction, focus, good habits, healing, healthy, keeping focus, lifestyle, productive, self-discovery, self-improvement, self-love, well-being, wellness

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