What is the ultimate time sucker? Distraction! I am forever fighting this battle and honestly, somedays I win and others look like bloody battlefields of haphazardness. Being distracted is a condition that I think many of us face on a daily basis and one that not only drains our energy but makes our productivity almost non-existent.
I have found that especially in these times when my favorite local coffee shops have thirty minute minimums on tables, and I’m forced to work and write from home, I struggle with keeping my eyes on the prize. Instead, my eyes are flitting all over the place noticing the mounds of laundry, the living room that looks like a “tween bomb” just exploded in it, and the dishes still sitting in the sink from breakfast. What I wish were moments of uninterrupted, focused bliss, I am conversely flying around getting everything half completed and nothing done very well.
This year I am making it my focus to change that. Through trial and error, and prayer, I have found four simple steps that have helped me fight the distraction dragon.
Give your phone a vacation.
We all know that for some of us our phone is our number distractor. Most times, if your phone is anywhere within reaching distance you will grab for it. Half the time, we never really have a reason to grab for it, but we just do. I am SO guilty of this.
Give your phone a vacation. Here is what I mean by that. Simply put it in another room. While you are working in your office, send your phone to the lovely and tropical kitchen for a little R & R. Or maybe it would like some solitary spa time in your bathroom for a few hours. Get the phone away from where you’re working. Case in point, I just got some really cute blue light glasses, and I had the thought that I should share these on my Instagram stories. If my phone hadn’t been on “vacation” in the other room I probably would have picked it up, tried to take some semi-flattering picture of my glasses and then been sucked into the worm hole of Instagram. All writing productivity would have been flushed down the toilet for the next 20 minutes.
Create time blocks.
Time blocking is huge and I highly recommend it. Carving out specific blocks of time to do certain work tasks or things around the house is incredibly helpful. I talk a lot about these and how effective they can be. When you block off time it gives you accountability to stay on task. It also gives you peace knowing that all of those other things on your to-do list are going to get addressed at some point during their allotted time frame. It helps to keep you from running around like a chicken with their head cut off.
Identify a dedicated work space.
Whether you’re working from home or a stay-at-home momma/domestic engineer, having dedicated work space is important. For me, I only work on my Beautycounter business when I’m in my office. And when I’m writing, I sit in my favorite chair in the living room by the fireplace with my cup of tea or gigantic bottle of water. Each place has a different vibe and when I’m in those places my mindset shifts to the specific tasks that need to be done in that location. When I’m writing, I’m not thinking about Beautycounter. When I’m in my office connecting with my team, I’m not focused on what my next blog post is.
This can be as simple as sticking to folding your laundry in the laundry room (if you have space), not on the kitchen table. Because what inevitably happens for me is if I’m folding laundry any place other than the laundry room, I begin to see the messy dog bowl area and I leave my laundry task half done to clean up the kibble. Have your work spaces identified and dedicated. It really helps a ton.
Pray for focus.
Ya’ll. This is the secret sauce. Quick story. A while ago I was walking the dog and praying for God to help me in this area of fighting distraction. When I got back to the house I found a strange, but beautiful sight. One of my daughters was tying up my other daughter in a chair with a ball of yarn. (That was the strange part.) The beautiful part was that the daughter in the chair was reading out loud from her devotional book, You’re God’s Girl! By Wynter Pitts. She “happened” to be reading a chapter that spoke about distraction and she read the verse Proverbs 4:25. It says…
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
Boom. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Here was another sword in my arsenal that I could use to help me fight distraction. Now, everytime I sit down to a new task I pray out loud and ask God to keep me focused on that task. I say, “Lord, let my eyes look straight ahead and fix my gaze directly before me.” I believe this keeps me from letting my eyes veer off course and from looking at other things that could steal my focus on what is at hand.
Distraction is what I like to call a “soft enemy”. It doesn’t seem particularly harmful compared to all of the other craziness going on around us in this world, however it’s still very real and very dangerous. Distraction keeps us from moving fully and effectively into our purpose and so much progress can be lost if we allow distraction to rule our lives.
It’s a battle I know many of us continually have to fight, but making some easy adjustments in our routine and asking God to keep our eyes on our paths will help kick the distraction dragon to the curb.