Distractions are a regular part of our life in the 21st century. Here are just a few of the distractions that might be a part of your day today.
- Pop up notifications of new email messages
- Pop up notifications of new instant messages
- Cell phones vibrating for new text messages, emails and phone calls
- Cell phones dinging, chirping, ringing and tweeting with every new Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Tumblr notification
- Office phones ringing
- People interrupting you
- Advertisements (On electronic billboards, your computer, in your mail, on your cell phone, on the radio, at the gas pump, while you’re using the restroom…)
One way to deal with all of these distractions is to use some easy strategies to reduce them, allowing you to focus on each task more intently before finishing and moving on to the next. These are just a few ideas I have played with in the past.
- Change your Outlook or Gmail settings to eliminate desktop notifications. In my businesses, between writing and insurance, I get around 300 emails every day. That meant that every couple of minutes I had the little blue box coming up in the corner of my desktop showing me that I had a new message, who it was from, and what the subject was. Other settings will flash a little envelope in the corner of your screen or some other reminder, as if this new message is much more important than whatever you were working on before. If you turn them off, you can check your email when you choose to and handle it mindfully.
- Turn off instant messengers. These messengers serve to make you available at any moment to anyone that wants your attention. This level of availability leaves your mindfulness and focus subject to the whims of anyone else with access to you.
- Turn off ringers and vibrate settings on your phone. Or better yet, turn it off when you’re not using it. Leaving your mobile device off or in silent mode will save you several hundred more interruptions throughout the day. Even if you choose not to pick up your phone when it dings or buzzes, your mind has to deal with the temporary distraction of knowing that something happened, and deciding whether or not to look.
- Keep only one window open on your computer at a time. Finish one thing before you start the next. This will help to avoid habitual task jumping.
- Schedule disconnected time. Plan some time each day when you are totally disconnected. This complete avoidance of distractions is important, especially if you have a family or are in a career that requires you to be creative. Turn off your computer and cell phone, put on some music or sit in silence. If you need to avoid distractions from other people, put on headphones. Even if you’re not listening to anything, nobody interrupts someone wearing headphones.
Have a joyful day!
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