08/12/14

The No Distraction Challenge

By Melanie Spring

You can always find a distraction if you're looking for one. - Tom Kite

When we are distracted instead of present, everyone suffers. We suffer, the person we’re with suffers, and the precious time we have disappears. We live to be distracted with phones sending us notifications, never ending inboxes, piles of books to read, and paramount to do lists. We’re never bored - there’s always something to do. And we end up forgetting to be present with the people in our lives who, at the end of our lives, we’ll regret not being more present.

Visiting the left coast, I got up quite early and went to the beach to meditate. While getting myself situated and in the zone with the breaking waves, I watched a mother and her 10 year old daughter walk with buckets out to the surf. Their vacationing brought a soft smile to my face. A smile until the mother took out her iPhone and proceeded to spend their seashell-finding time flipping through her Facebook feed. Her daughter stood in front of her quietly asking for attention. Distracted, she would ignore the little girl for a bit before returning to their beach task. It hurt my heart watching the exchange, but it struck me as something that has become normal for all of us. To ignore those standing right in front of us asking for our time and attention.

As we grow our businesses, we have to take care of three groups of people - ourselves, our employees, and our clients. Most of us tend to put our clients first because they make sure we have a paycheck. But in reality, we need to take care of ourselves in order to take care of our employees who end up taking care of our clients. If we’re not 100% present, none of them will get taken care of. 

SELF: When I’m working on a task at the office, I tend to flip back and forth between other tasks, emails, and my phone. Distracting myself from what I planned to do along with trying to multitask gets many things done slowly and in a sloppy way. When I focus, I get more done and my brain is happy and creative. 

After hours, I need time alone to recharge but I find myself picking up my phone and flipping through Facebook, Instagram, or incessantly checking my email. I know I need to take the time to relax before falling asleep but there’s always so much going on with my phone that my fear of missing out wins. When I give myself time to meditate or read without distraction, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and allows my brain to relax. Which makes me more productive the next day.

EMPLOYEES: When one of my team members walks into my office to ask a question, I often find myself looking over at my laptop to see what the latest email is or my phone to see what the latest tweet was. These distractions keep me from fully listening and engaging. When I’m distracted, my team can feel like their questions aren’t worth my time because I’m showing them that other things are more important. If I close my laptop and turn over my phone, I can listen to everything they’re saying and answer with conviction. The same thing goes for meetings. 

CLIENTS: When a client calls or I have a new business meeting via phone, I can get caught in the loop of not fully listening. The person on the other end of the phone can’t see the multitude of things I’m doing, but they can tell when I’m not really listening. Closing everything and taking notes by hand solves this and allows me to be present and engaging so they know I care.

NO DISTRACTIONS CHALLENGE

Let's be more present and break the distraction habit beginning with 7 days. While writing this post, I started the challenge - I sat outside in the sunshine without my phone & with my email turned off. It got done much quicker than normal. I know, amazing, right?

Goal: Be present and stay focused on what’s happening.
When: Tuesday, August 12 - Monday, August 18, 2014

  1. Phone: When taking a phone call, shut the laptop and use a pen and notepad for notes. Listen intently.
  2. In Person: When meeting with someone, even for a short time, turn your phone over and close your laptop. Focus on the conversation.
  3. To Do’s: After choosing  task from your crazy to do list, turn off your email, turn over your phone, and close your IM and finish the task, or at least a part of the task before moving to the next item. Using the Pomodoro Timer helps tremendously.
    (Also, read Getting Things Done)
  4. After Hours: When spending time with family and friends, turn your phone on silent and place it upside down or in another room. 
  5. Alone Time: When you’re exercising, meditating, reading, or watching TV, leave your phone behind and focus. It’ll allow your brain to recover without the constant distraction. You deserve it.

Want to take this challenge with me? I need your support. Post a comment below if you’re going to join me and I’ll check in with you to see how it’s going. Ready, set… be present.

Melanie Spring
Chief Inspiration Officer
Read Melanie's bio


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