All of us have been distracted from time to time. And there is nothing wrong with periodic distraction. But recently I have discovered I’ve been sucked into distraction with a capital D. The kind that becomes your whole reality and takes over your time, and you wake up wondering where all your day has gone and you’ve gotten nothing done.
Several sources can be blamed for my distractions. YouTube Shorts is a big one. I will check it out while I grab a snack and turn it on, then 30 minutes is gone in a blink and I haven’t moved.
Social media, Pinterest, audiobooks, and regular books also suck me in. And don’t even get me started with online shopping. It’s most dangerous when I feel tired or want a break or distraction from some kind of stress.
In my personal battle with distraction I have found a couple of tools that help me find a balance between what I need to get done, and still getting to enjoy some of the delicious distractions in the world.
My 4 Anti-Distraction Tips
Tip 1- Set a timer
I still need time to unwind and zone out. So when I sit down in my favorite spot, I have started putting a timer on my phone. When the timer goes off I make myself get back to work. It has given me a chance to rest and not let my mind get pulled into the vacuum of space.
Tip 2- Keep a list
I don’t know about you, but my kid tends to enter a room like Kramer from Seinfeld. He enters the room talking and asking for something and demanding your attention. I am sure this is pretty normal. But when I am in the middle of something it can throw me off.
So instead of getting frustrated at the dramatic interruption, I take a moment to make a note about where I was and what I was doing. Because without fail the child wants something that will require time and attention. So when I am done I know where to return to stay on task.
This same list helps my mind to rest at night. I don’t know why, but everything I need to do, or could ever do, comes into my head just as I am trying to go to bed. So a list is necessary or I spend all night trying to remember the important things I remembered at bedtime.
Tip 3- Prioritize
I recently heard a talk by Emily Belle Freeman where she talked about loving a good Proper Romance. She said she keeps it to 20 minutes before bed so she can enjoy the sweet story that always has a happy ending. And I have adapted her idea for my life. When I am done with the important things that have to be done, then I can allow myself to listen to an audiobook or read a regular book. Otherwise, I will start reading and the whole day is gone before I have gotten anything accomplished.
I also enjoy listening to music or podcasts while I do chores. But I still need to prioritize my work or I am sucked in and forget what else I was going to do.
Tip 4- Be selective
The final tip I can share is to be selective in what entertainment you choose. Far too often I have sat down to take a short break and found a new series I love.
Then before I know it, I am binge-watching episodes. So now I make myself wait to watch more than I safely have time for. And I am selective about the things I watch.
My family needs a lot of my time, and they aren’t quiet about having their needs met. I’m talking about other things that can be more quiet in their needs. Laundry and dishes don’t yell when you don’t do them. But if you forget them long enough everyone is unhappy. And truly housework is my least favorite thing. So it is usually the thing that gets pushed off longest.
Distraction Affects Mental Health
I’ve found that when I let myself get distracted too long, it’s not the house so much as my mind that suffers. I don’t feel the freedom to write. I struggle to feel the Spirit of the Lord with me. And I feel blocked and forget friends and neighbors that I usually check on. I truly think that the Adversary uses distraction to keep us from doing the good things we intend to do. It’s an ongoing battle.
We have so much we can offer those in our world. We recently had a young woman from our congregation go on a mission. She is one of those radiant souls who light up a room. Every time I meet her I feel like I go away feeling more love and peace in my life. She lifts me up.
Be a Light
I think of her being a missionary, and serving others full time for the next 18 months. It makes me smile because I know those she serves will see her light and get to know God through her goodness. But I also know that if she gives in to distraction like I have been lately, her light won’t be seen.
That is what I mean by the Adversary using distraction as a tool to stop us. We all have light, we all make a difference. But distraction can derail us if we aren’t careful. And we can miss out on our lives if we allow distractions to take over.
So I am going to keep making my lists and setting timers. Because this world has so much knowledge and entertainment for the taking. But it also needs you and me to be present in our lives and with our families. Our light is needed in the world.