Distractions are everywhere.
Some are small like when you go shopping for healthy food only to be tempted by the candy near the front of the register, or that little knick-knack that you don’t really need, but makes you feel good for the first five minutes that you own it then it gets placed in the lost and never to be found pile under your bed.
Others are big like that two-hour phone call that should have only taken 5 minutes or that half hour TV show that ended up with you in a four-hour couch potato marathon. (Popcorn not included)
Distractions rarely make us feel better in the long run, and (if not used properly) don’t improve our happiness when it comes to our lifestyle.
Most of the time they give us a temporary sense of satisfaction that only lasts until the distraction is over.
Then we dwell on going back to what we are supposed to (or feel we are supposed to) be doing.
Our shoulders slump and our faces begin to frown from the thought of doing whatever mundane activity we have to do, when we could be enjoying ourselves if we weren’t stuck at this place, at this time, doing this time-consuming, boring activity.
Distractions aren’t always bad, but when they affect our goals, (especially those pertaining to our lifestyle) it becomes a major problem.
Here’s the bright side
Distractions are necessary. What? You read it right.
When we have no choice but to do those mundane activities we need a distraction to ease the mind and reset our emotional levels.
Distractions are a great way to give us the strength to do the things that are difficult, boring, or routine.
They give us that temporary boost we need to trudge through and keep going when we’d rather be having fun or even watching paint dry compared to our current activity.
So distractions are necessary, but they also get in the way, so how can I have my cake and eat it too?
What’s the solution?
Great question. You have to learn to schedule your distractions. Now I know what you’re saying.
If it’s a distraction how do I schedule it?
You schedule it by setting time aside to do what you want, how you want, at set times and eliminating distractions the rest of the time. (i.e. when you’re on a project)
This means if you have a four-hour project and know that you can’t go more than an hour without getting distracted set aside 10 or 15 minutes every hour to do exactly what you want.
Listen to music, read, play with your kids. This time is for you. It’s special, it’s golden, and it’s relaxing. Enjoy yourself.
However, when you are working on your project turn off your cell phone, stop reading emails or browsing the internet, go to a silent isolated place. Do whatever you have to do in order to eliminate any possible distractions while you’re working.
Create a list of your most common distractions and make sure none of them are present during your important/necessary activities.
It’s imperative in order to get things done as soon as possible so you can enjoy the rest of your time.
More pleasure equals less stress, which translates to better focus when you need to complete a daunting task.
One last important pearl of wisdom. Some of us find it difficult to go back to that unhappy task we need to complete after taking a pleasurable break (distraction).
I have found it very helpful to slowly transition back to work mode by taking an additional five minutes of silence (after your scheduled distraction) in order to clear the mind.
This is not time spent doing what you enjoy, nor is it time spent working on your project. It is simply quite time to let your mind clear itself out and refocus or reset itself before going back to the task at hand.
Studies show it can take twenty minutes or more to refocus after being distracted, however this time can be greatly diminished by resting your mind and allowing it to slow down and refocus on its own.
What are your biggest distractions? What have you done to refocus after being distracted, and how has it helped you?