- Lori Carol Maloy
Distracted by a Noisy World? 8 Tips To Help You Focus
My eyes are still heavy with sleep and I’m not ready to adjust to the day ahead, I cradle the mug of hot liquid and curl into the warm embrace of my favorite overstuffed chair to think and contemplate all I must do today. Just as I unlock the door of my mind and begin tinkering, and just as I ponder on what went wrong and how to amend my mistakes in order to have a brighter tomorrow, I hear noise.
A titillating distraction draws me from my thoughts back into the room and to the scene before me. Something I would welcome if I were anxious, distressed, or emotionally active and in need of calming down.
But this distraction is my frenzied, overactive kitten disturbing my early morning me time. Simba can’t seem to decide what he should be doing and seems to be everywhere and into everything at once. He knocks over vases, plants, what-nots, and sharpens his claws on every piece of furniture I hold dear.
Sidetracked for the moment, my thoughts are now muddled. Concentration escapes me. My plans and goals drift, like the leftover musings of a warm and fuzzy dream as they escape upon waking; all efforts to keep them close, useless.
As I sat there laughing at the antics of my kitten, not another thought entered my mind except the warm taste of the coffee I was sipping. Not a single goal, plan, reminiscence or musing was left alive inside my head. Not until he climbed onto my lap, purring as though exhausted by a full tummy after a Thanksgiving feast, did the thought of how noise and distraction keep me from getting things done.
Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short.” Adam Hochschild
In our modern world it’s easy to be distracted from our goals and hopes and dreams. I have found myself ready and anxious to complete a plan, only to have it wither and die when interruptions pushed or pulled me in another direction.
If we are not interrupted by phone calls, telemarketers, or the next new innovative idea popping onto our internet stream, there are other distractions. Unfortunately, life cannot run smoothly all the time and family emergencies or problems can arise unexpectedly. Many of us have pets to attend to, children, and social engagements that draw us away from our current projects.
But what about when we seek out the distractions? At times we can use an escape to avoid a task or responsibility. I find that when I know I need to write or study the bible (two things I truly love), I can clean quite effectively, find a movie to watch or tell myself other tasks must be done. In so doing, I have neglected my very soul.
“When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.” Viktor Frankl
What about those distractions we seek out that are not good for us?
Alcohol and substances
Gambling or other vices
Excessive Shopping or spending
There are so many more, but for the case of brevity I will stop at four. Even things that are not bad or unhealthy can be a negative in our lives if they distract us from our purpose.
Staying on Task
I find myself mistakenly leaving ingredients out of recipes because of slight distractions. Frustrated with myself, I promise I won’t do that again. I’ve taken to mimicking the television cooking shows. I’m sure you’ve seen them place all the ingredients in individual tiny cups and bowls. Then when it’s time to use them, they dump the pre-poured or placed ingredients in one by one. If one is left behind, you will surely see it sitting there. You have a visual of the error. Oh, if all of life was so simple. But not until we are intentional do those small bowls get filled beforehand.
I laugh hysterically when a comedian uses humor to describe walking into another room and forgetting what you went in there after. I do this all the time. As I march back to my starting point, I scold myself hoping something will jog my memory. Finding myself in the original room where the thought struck me will usually help the recall. Though more often, once I get into the room to get that certain something, I get distracted and start doing something new in there never knowing or finishing what I really went in there for to start with. Oh my, my, my.
Sometimes I feel that I am never able to get things done. The list is too long and the distractions plentiful. For instance, I still have boxes of things to unpack from when I moved nearly two years ago. I’d like to bake more, organize my office space at home, and have a yard sale that would put a town-wide event to shame.
I wrote a blog on my counseling blogsite a few weeks ago on creating a vision board to help you stay on track with your plans and goals. I am in the midst of doing my own vision board, but what about those dreaded distractions?
There will always be distractions and interruptions in our lives. In order to complete your thoughts, enjoy the event you’re attending or relish in the company of who you are talking to right now, you must push away those distractions with intention.
Have you ever been with someone only to sit silently and watch them scroll through social media, answer calls, or strike up a conversation with the person sitting on the other side of them, leaving you sitting there alone? These moments can be frustrating as well as hurtful. But I’m sure we’ve all done this to others at some time in our own lives.
Being intentional means focusing on the task at hand without allowing outside interruptions to draw our attention away.
Here are several tips for being present, whether alone or in someone’s presence:
Silence or shut off your cell phone and social media notifications
Learn to listen without offering advice or criticizing
Be present and attentive with the person you are with
Do one thing at a time
Write things down and check things off your list
Utilize eye contact
Take a deep breath and clear your mind
Put the animals outside or in another room
“Focus, Focus, consolidated focus. Beware of distractions.” Ikechukwu Joseph
Finding quiet moments will never be easy with all the current distractions of this modern era. Though this is possible if you’re intentional with your time and focus.
Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay
Be mindful of what you are doing, why you are doing it. Remain in the moment.
Pushing distractions aside and focusing on those we love and the goals we have outlined as part of who we are and what we want, are indeed possible.
It just takes effort and intentionality.
Tomorrow isn’t promised. Time is not on our side. There may not be another chance or a next time.
SO EMBRACE THIS MOMENT. NOTICE IT!
I’d love to hear about how you complete your tasks and let the people around you know they matter more to you than the distractions that will always be there.
“but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” Mark 4:19 (NIV)