In our culture of multi-tasking, hyper-activity and praise for doing it all, taking the one at a time approach or (gasp) doing nothing at all can make us feel unproductive and unworthy. On the surface we do our damnedest to keep up, catch up, stay afloat and do more than everyone else, but at the heart of it all, we know it’s crazy making.
It’s easy to reflect on the days when everything got done with pride, but don’t forgot about the times when you gave all of your attention to one project, one person, one task. It’s in those one at a time, distraction free moments where your heart opens and the magic happens.
Distraction free living provides an opportunity for
- your best work
- the people in your life to be and feel seen and heard
- you to be completely content
- time to stand still
- your body to heal
- your mind to focus
- your heart to engage
A distraction free life might not always be possible, but creating an environment with less distraction, and distraction free blocks of time will raise your level of engagement and lower stress and overwhelm. A distraction free life is art because you have to create it. It is intentional and made with purpose.
1. Shorten your to-do list.
Instead of a notebook full of to-dos, try a 3 or 5 item list. If you are worried about forgetting things, make a to-do today list and a to-do tomorrow list. If you finish your 3-5 items, go for a walk or do something just for you instead of jumping into the to-do tomorrow list. Even though you think you’ll catch up or get ahead of things, the reality is that the list keeps growing.
2. Work with passion.
When you get lost in your work because you are so wild about it, distractions slip away. You’ll discover the things you thought were urgent and important are not.
3. Be confident about what matters most.
What matters most to you is different from what matters most to me. It’s also very different from what other people think you should think matters most. Trust your heart. You know what matters most. Defend it by giving it all of you.
4. Turn everything off.
Distractions come from all directions, but most frequently from digital devices. Turn them all off when you are working or engaging in something meaningful.
5. Ditch passive email checking.
What’s the point of checking email if you aren’t ready to respond? Instead of passively watching email come in all day, set a 20 minute block to get in, respond briefly and get out. Repeat as needed.
6. Under schedule.
Just because there are 24 hours in a day, doesn’t mean you have to fill that time with obligations and commitments. Leave blocks of time with nothing to do.
7. Give in to joy.
If something joyful is tugging at your arm, or your heart, give in. Let the email wait. Leave the dishes in the sink and check your voice mail tomorrow. Deny the distractions and make right now all about joy.
Distractions are a part of life, and there are some that you can’t predict or control. That said, the majority are self-inflicted. Get creative about protecting your time, your heart, and everything that matters most.
Then, make way for laughter, joy, rest and contentment.