How To Manage Distractions

When you have two children, you can play man to man.  More than two and you have to play zone.  As if that’s not difficult enough, there’s a new challenge.


Remember the pastoral days before cell phones?  Just you and nature or whoever happened to be in front of you.  You could change your oil in peace or bake a cake without being dinged.

I’m so glad cellphones weren’t around when I was a teenager.  It was bad enough not having a girlfriend, let alone worrying if I was going to get dumped via text.   My zit production was bad enough without that kind of stress looming over head.

Back in those days the only ones who had cell phones were C.E.O’s.  And the phones they had were the size of bread loaves.  When did we all become C.E.O’s?

While those days aren’t gone, something has changed.  There came a day when we found that we could do lots of things at the same time.  We could drive and talk on our phones or read a text.  We could read a book to our child and look up the latest deals in the market place when and if necessary.

But it’s more than our phones now.  There are distractions everywhere.  Go online for a few minutes and there a thousands of different rabbit trails.  They know what you like based on your searches and advertise the items in the margins.  You can go online today to find out what the weather is going to be and end up buying a kayak!

By now, perhaps you’re beginning to realize the dilemma.  There are so many alluring exits in our daily travels that we’re having a hard time reaching our destinations.

Here are some thoughts on focusing.

F: Find a system that works for you.  Personally, I’ve found that when I lock my cell phone in my car for hours on end, I can’t be distracted by it.  While that might sound harsh, find a system that works for you.  Go cold turkey.  Start by taking baby steps.  If hours on end sounds too long, lock it away for an hour or two.  Whatever you do, find what works for you.  Turn off your notifications.  Silence it during sleeping hours.  Once you find your system, tweak it and change it.  Learn from your mistakes.

O: Opt out on being part of the crowd.  We all want to be loved.  The problem is we can’t love everyone at the same time.  Oprah says she’s got a lot of money.  And because she has lots of money, she gets a lot of requests from people who want her money.  She says that while she can’t give money away to everyone, she can give away some here and there.  You’re not Oprah.  You only have a limited supply of time and energy.  Don’t try to keep everyone happy.  They’ll find you sitting in your cubicle drooling all over yourself.  Opting out of the crowd doesn’t mean you don’t care. It means you care enough for those you love to devote yourselves to them in such a way that they know they are your number one priority.  Don’t be a cellphone zombie.

C: Craft a vision for you and your family.  Part of the reason we’re so distracted is we don’t have a long term vision.  Take some time and try this exercise.  Begin by imagining what you want your children and/or family to remember about you.  Many people do this.  What do you want your epithet to say?  Then ask yourself what you want your grandchildren to remember about you.  Then your great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.  If that doesn’t help, ask yourself what you want to remembered about you one thousand years from now!  Once you can answer that question, the distractions will melt away.

U: Use your phone to create.  In the world of production, there are really only two types of people, producers and consumers.  My personal vision is to ‘create good things, beautiful things, in the lives of others and their families’.  The problem is it’s so easy to just consume all of the good and beautiful things other people have created.  You don’t have to write a novel or write a blog to be creative.  Start small.  Text your spouse during your break and tell them you love them.  Call one of your friends on FB who appears to be struggling.  Post something that is going to add value to the lives of your followers.  Start by making one call a day or one post.  Encourage one person.

S: Soar.  As you begin to take back parts of your life, your whole life will improve.  Don’t go through life being distracted left and right.  Focus on the moment.  Wherever you are, be all there.  By taking a few minutes or hours to take a bird’s eye view, you’ll develop an Eagle’s eye focus on what needs attention.  Reflection and observation are two of the most powerful tools to help you get back on track and start flying toward your dreams again.

Nothing can undermine your effectiveness quicker than distractions.  The good news is that the more you begin to focus, the more your distractions diminish.

Some people put blinders on their horses to keep the horse focused on the task at hand.  It’s not cruel.  It keeps the animal on track and focused on the task at hand.  I don’t know about you, but I need blinders sometimes.  There have been too many days when I haven’t experienced a sense of satisfaction because I’ve been distracted.  How about you?




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