There are endless opportunities for distraction in the human world; so many of them created by our species’ beautiful and bizarre creativity, storytelling, ingenuity and engineering.
Things that typically distract me have entertained, informed, educated, comforted, soothed, accompanied, reassured, numbed, overwhelmed, irked and bored me to varying degrees.
I find, however, that I have all too often been drawn into holding patterns of a range of distractions which pull me away from my Goals. Dreams. Centre. Truth. Potential. Clear thinking. Critical thinking. Attention span. Pile of unread books. Real world relationships. Love.
Worldly and human distractions can be beguiling and, like pretty much anything in life, too many are not so good for you. Whilst distractions are a fact of life, and when engaged with wisely and consciously have their benefits, I have been working on curating them.
A few examples of how I have reduced, contained and controlled the things most likely to pull my energy and focus off-piste:
- Unsubscribing from email circulars which I never really read
- Uninstalling Instagram from my phone when I am not using it. If I want to look at it, I have to install it, and then when I have finished looking I uninstall. I tend to look at Instagram on the weekends only
- Reducing mindless, habitual ‘checking’ of various other social media platforms
- Limiting my exposure to the news so I stay informed about but not absorbed in unfolding or historic events that, by-and-large, I can do very little or nothing about
- Identifying just a few TV programmes/YouTube channels/podcasts that I most want to consume amongst the plethora of options out there. Right now I am slowly making my way through seven seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (yes, I am a self-confessed Trekkie – late adopter!) and Race Across the World on BBC IPlayer. There’s a handful of YouTube channels I return to regularly (I will do a separate post about these one day). For podcasts I regularly listen to The Rest is Politics to quench my political and social interests, and The Mel Robbins podcast to give me a dose of self-development/positive pep talks.
- Placing “time buffers” of about an hour at the beginning and end of the day after waking and before going to bed when I avoid looking at my phone (as far as possible)
I have found it interesting that, since scaling back my social media engagement, whenever I do go back to these platforms I quickly get bored of them. This brings home to me that social media is, well… a bit overrated, really.
Equally, I have also noticed then when I have not followed my rule above and Instagram stays installed on my phone I inevitably check it more regularly. I gradually end up scrolling through content for longer periods and get ‘sucked in’ to its addictive algorithm of entertaining, largely forgettable posts and reels, and before I know it I have lost an hour of my life mindlessly scrolling. This brings home to me that social media is powerful and can be highly addictive.
It’s all a work in progress and I continue to learn. What tips do you recommend for improving focus in a world of distractions?
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