Destroying the Distractions that Rob You

Has your phone become another limb, constantly attached to you? What if it were robbing you of your most precious resource?
And what is your most precious resource? You may be thinking money, time, or something else. But what about your attention?
In 1880, William James famously defined attention as, “taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought, localization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatter brained state which in French is called distraction, and Zerstreutheit in German.
Attention is your brain’s ability to consciously choose what you see at any given time. How intentional are you about where you place your attention? Do you allow inanimate objects to control you and your attention?
Destroying Digital Distractions:

  • Stop Phubbing (when you snub others in favor of your mobile phone.) If you value people and relationships, make a practice of putting your phone away. Some families have a basket at the door where all digital devices are collected and forbidden at the table. There was a great story about teenage friends who shared that despite their complaining, they actually appreciated the practice of being forced to put their phones away. It made the quality of their time with friends much richer.
  • Start Planning – Decide when you are checking your email. Don’t let other people prioritize your time. Constantly checking and responding means that someone else is defining your priorities.
  • Use a Paper Planner –Avoid getting distracted by interesting apps or a quick email perusal. While it’s helpful to have an electronic calendar, consider using a paper planner as your reference point, or print out the day’s schedule. That will keep you from being distracted by other electronic temptations.
  • Own Your Time – Work in specific intervals distraction-free. Turn off notifications and tackle a specific task.  All the research shows that focused, concentrated bursts of work produce the best results. Try the Pomodoro timer to get in the habit of focused work cycles.
  • Recognize and Recover from Addiction – The programmers of the applications you use have applied the principles of neuroscience and habit formation to ensure that you keep coming back. Decide when and for how long you will use a specific app. Then take steps to put the phone away so you are not tempted.

Be intentional about who or what gets your attention, especially when it comes to your phone. Take control of your attention and use it to your advantage. Stop allowing other people or technology to rob you.

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