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Dealing With Life’s Distractions

Posted Nov 02 2010 10:27am

I have long been bothered by the amount of distractions we experience in the modern world; Phones, e-mail, text messages, websites, RSS feeds, the list just goes on and on….

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that it really occurred to me how distracting these things can be and how they can actually get in the way of living a normal, and productive life. In fact as I am writing this the phone is ringing, but you know what I am just going to leave it this time…..

One Friday a few weeks back I spent the afternoon with a friend having lunch and drinks, within the space of 4 hours I had received - Various IM’s on my phone, SMS text messages, several e-mail and a missed call or two (which led to voicemails). This is coming from someone who is far from the most connected man on earth…. It not only made me feel stressed and overwhelmed but was just plain annoying and made me long for the days when phones were only for home use and time out was more a less free of distractions. Our minds are not meant to be “Always on” so things have to change.

That weekend I had a good think about all of this and though up some ideas of how I could cope with these distractions in future, and in a sense restore my life to a more distraction free version of what it is. I set about drawing up a list of the distractions that most of us face in todays world:

  • Constant E-mail Stream
  • Having a mobile phone with us all the time (phone calls and SMS’s)
  • Instant Messages on Handsets (BBM, Whatsapp etc)
  • Overwhelming amount of media to read (newspapers, internet articles, our RSS feeds)
  • Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook etc)
  • Having over cluttered lives in general (Clothes, Books, Magazines, CD’s, DVD’s)

Minimising Distractions

The first step I took was to implement a Twice a Day E-mail Check of my business accounts. This basically covers my blog stuff and all other non personal e-mails. My own personal e-mails can still stream through as they are infrequent and 99% of the time non urgent.

I check e-mails first thing in the morning and once again late in the afternoon or after dinner, depending on my free time. This has not only made things more streamline but makes sure I prioritise answering certain e-mails and has gotten rid of the tendency to forget about certain things that need responding to.

The next thing was to Stop Carrying my Mobile Phone everywhere. This makes for an amazing change, when I go for a walk, or to grab some food I will leave my mobile at home. This not only makes me feel undistracted but also halts an inquisitive mind which will be wanting to lookup stuff I am curious about on my iPhone’s browser.

I will also make use of the phone’s Airplane mode on occasion which stops any data coming through and is the next best thing if you just want to cut off from the world for a while. If something really important comes up, you will most certainly hear about it anyways.

Make space for One Important Thing Everyday. The truth is everyday we only need to do one or at most two really important things, or tasks. Each day make a note of what that thing is and do it. For me today it was writing this blog post, it’s not that I didn’t do another productive stuff but it was the main important thing that I likely would put off unless I had a bit of a push. Doing one important thing everyday gives you a goal to aim for and prioritises things, making for a less distracted mindset.

Make a less urgent To Do list underneath. This can be all the little things you need to do like (always include fun stuff):

  • Laundry
  • Having a workout
  • Chasing up a phonecall
  • Buying food
  • Cooking a meal
  • Watching a certain TV show
  • Watching a sports event

Pretty much anything that needs to be done. This not only makes you more likely to do all these things, but will give you clarity in this jumbled, information overloaded world.

De-Clutter Online. For me this meant trimming down my RSS feed to only cover the stuff that is relevant to me now and following less people on Twitter. Doing these two things in themselves make for a much more simple and relaxing day, it basically removes a few more of the nagging things that need to be read or dealt with throughout the day or week. Most people subscribe to too much stuff on the net anyway with newsletters, Blogs and social media taking up a large chunk of our lives.

Get Rid of Old Stuff. After reading this post I was really inspired to sell off my unwanted possessions on eBay. My place is littered with books, clothes, CD’s and DVD’s that I will never watch, listen to or wear again. Besides most my media is digital now including my books after getting a Kindle. Being familiar with eBay this was an easy step and I put all the stuff which is worth something yet of little or no use to me up for sale.

It is worth sticking stuff you think has value on eBay and taking the rest to charity shops, or exchange shops who will give you cash or credit vouchers for books, DVD’s or clothes.

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

I know it can seem like a big task at first but once the things are gone, your space will not only be less cluttered but you will feel a whole lot lighter as well. Plus it goes a long way to removing the distractions in your life.

This post has very little to do with Health and Fitness, but sometimes I like to stray off topic and clearing up distractions and living a more sane and peaceful life can have a definite positive effect on our general health and wellbeing….

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And also checkout my e-book ‘A Simple Guide to Eating Well ‘. Thanks for reading.

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