Let’s talk about distractions. You know those things that pull our focus away from what we should be doing. I haven’t blogged in a few weeks and you know why? You guessed it…..I have been distracted. My concentration and focus have been so consumed by these distractions that I have noticed that when I open my eyes in the morning the first thing I do is reach for my cell phone to check Facebook, email, and Groupme. When the first thing I should be doing is thanking God for blessing me to see another day. I have allowed external interruptions like Facebook and Groupme to bring disorder to my life and I am feeling it; and it’s high time I address the problem.
I have begun to assess my routine in an attempt to discover what exactly it is it that causes me to lose focus. Each of us has some level of distraction in our lives. But here of late I have noticed that I will be prepared to do some writing or maybe research travel quotes for clients, and after about 20 minutes or so realize I just wasted valuable time browsing Facebook. In my wold, as I’m sure in most of your world’s as well, 20 minutes is a lot of time when there are so many other demands placed on us.
Recently at the advice of a friend, I did an “experiement” where I shut off my cell phone, unplugged the house phone and turned the computer and television off to see exactly what I could get accomplished without interruptions before bed time. Surprisingly, although its unclear why, that was the most productive evening I had in a long time. I was able to get so much done and I have to be honest, I was quite proud of myself. But what is exactly the cause of my inability to remain focused and concentrate on the task at hand? Well, I did some research and came across an interesting article by Paul Dickinson. Mr. Dickinson believes that concentration is divided into three levels.
- The first level is acknowledging that I have things to get accomplished. I know I have to write a blog. I know the client is waiting on their quote. I know the laundry needs to get done; and I have all of the intention in the world to get it done. But I am vulnerable to distractions and my mind begins to wander and I convince myself that taking even just five minutes to see what is happening on Facebook is harmless.
- At the second level of concentration I have a better understanding of what I need to do. I am slightly more focused but well aware of the fact that even though some distractions are at a minimum, there are still a few that could cause me to lose focus. For example, when the telephone rings and it’s my god sister asking me if I saw what so and so posted on Facebook. Before I know it, I am on the internet and once again, distracted.
- When I’ve mastered avoiding the distractions, I am at the final stage, fully immersed in the task at hand. I am focused and determined and short of a natural disaster, my mind is set on completing my work. I’m sure most of you reading this will agree that we do our best work when we are concentrating fully on what we are doing. This is why each of us should strive to reach level three.
Like anything that is good for us, reaching the third and final level will not be easy. There are bound to be distractions to keep us distracted by the distractions already in place. In the words of my colleague, “it’s a conspiracy!” But, it’s not at all impossible. I have made a conscious decision to do a much-needed fast from all social media, especially Facebook. Short of checking one or two groups for important information that I need, I will be absent. I am also ensuring that I disconnect myself from the telephone, television and internet before beginning a task. The Internet is tricky has everything we do is on the internet, but it is necessary. I am preparing my environment in which I will be working, to be conducive to being productive; i.e., proper lighting, aromatherapy, ensuring I have the proper tools, and soft music that helps me concentrate (or quiet depending on my mood). Lastly, I ask God to help me stay focused so that I am productive.
Distractions are a part of life and probably will not go away…on their own. So it is important that we learn to master them so that they won’t master us. If we make every effort to deal with distractions before starting the task at hand, getting it done will become that much easier. Now, if you will excuse me, its been 20 minutes since I updated my Facebook status.