08/19/14

The No Distraction Lifestyle

By Melanie Spring

Distractions are everywhere. Between laptops, phones, kids, employees, friends, and advertising, most of us never get a break. We’ve even become a culture that craves distraction. Even in the bathroom. Before most of us started taking our phones into the bathroom, there were magazines and books waiting for us to keep us busy while we were busy. When was the last time you focused solely on one thing at a time without jumping to something else? Tough to answer, huh?

Last Tuesday, I challenged myself to week of no distractions. Quite a few of you joined me in this challenge because you saw you wanted to break the habit of distracting yourself, too. 

Over the week, I was forced by the challenge to be conscious of everything I did and how often I got distracted - by people, thoughts, or my to do list. I noticed the things that caused me to be distracted, what caused me to stay focused, and found a way to manage my focused time better. In just one week, I started a habit of focus. I’m definitely not as focused as I want to be, but the habit has been planted.

The No Distraction Challenge: Findings

WRITING TIME: Every week, my to do list tells me to write two blog posts. Because this has to be a weekly habit, I need to create focused time to do it.

1. Knowing my topic helps me to not sit and stare at a wall hoping for inspiration. When an idea for a blog post comes to mind in random places at random times, I add it to a Trello checklist on a card marked “Blog Post Ideas” via the iPhone app. 
2. Creating an outline in the Moleskine notebook I keep with me at all times with my favorite pen helped the post come to life quicker.
3. Going outdoors with my laptop and all of my applications closed helped me get the writing done quicker. And I can post & schedule it right away.

PERSONAL TIME: Spending the week with my family in CA created a great space for me to force personal time. I had to interact with people I didn’t see very often and make the time count.

1. I’ve created brainless habits with my iPhone. I refresh my email way more often than is necessary, even in front of people. I started leaving it in random places of the house to stay away from it.
2. When someone interrupts a conversation, I can lose track of what I was trying to say. Being aware of how much I was interrupting allowed me to just shut up and listen more.
3. When I worried about work I should do, I was stressed and not thinking about the conversation. Finding specific times for dedicated work allowed me to be more present in conversation.

WORK TIME: This last week, Sisarina launched a product called Simply Branded. It took serious focus to cross the rest of the T’s and dot the i’s. It had to fit into the rest of my to do list and get launched on Friday.

1. When speaking with clients on the phone, I find myself wandering around my laptop as I listen. And when I do, I’m not listening. I started shutting applications and keeping Evernote open to take notes instead.
2. Having a specific to do list with deadlines puts a fire under me to get things done. And not breaking dates with myself makes sure I get it done quicker.
3. Have a set time of day to start work and end work allowed for more breathing room, even if I had to start it back up later that evening to get things finished. 

By the end of the week, I started becoming more careful of how much I interacted with phone and how little I actually needed to. I also realized that just being present with someone else can be such a gift, and it’s such a rare gift these days. Our time with family and friends is important & not spending the time with them will be one of our biggest regrets.

CURRENTLY READING: The Power of Habits  

What did you find during the challenge and what will you continue to do?