Lately, I’ve been thinking about the relationship between our intentions and our daily distractions. If the goal is to create a more intentional life and business, we need to become more aware of how we become distracted, and how those distractions derail us from our intentions. Where are we allowing our time and energies to be stolen?
In his book, Indistractable, Nir Eyal defines distraction as “anything that draws us away from what we really want to do.” It might be a task at home or work, enjoying time with a loved one, or doing something for ourselves….in short, a distraction is anything that pulls us away from what we said we really wanted to do. Consider how many times each day you encounter a distraction. What do you think you could accomplish and experience if you were able to hone your focus and quell the nearly constant disruptions in your life?
Does this sound like you?
You plan to sit down for 2 hours to work on design for a project. About 15 minutes into your design, your phone rings and you take the call. Maybe you receive an alert and quickly read and respond to a text from a colleague or family member. Or, a colleague knocks on your door to ask you a question. Or, you remember that Instagram post you’ve been thinking about, so you decide to take a minute and post it. How much time was stolen from your original project? What distractions took you off course? And, how do you feel now? Are you drained? Or do you feel energized?
Are you being conscious and intentional about how you spend your time?
Are the distractions in your life dragging you down, and depleting your energy?
Let’s look at an analogy. With finances, if you are in debt or want to get out of debt, or if you simply want to create more financial clarity, the first thing you do is to look at how you’re spending your money. Where is it being spent unconsciously? Where are you spending beyond your means? The most obvious place that money is wasted, is when we’re not being intentional about our spending.
In the same way, we can also look at time as a commodity. What are you doing with your time? Where are you investing it? Are you using it in the way you want? Or, are you wasting it?
Here is an exercise that I give to my clients, in order to practice intention-setting, and it’s also helpful as a study in how to maximize your time.
- Look at your daily to-do list and decide how much time you are going to spend on each item.
- State WHEN you will do the task. Eyal defines this as “time boxing.”
- Then, before you start each item, set a timer.
- Notice how much you are able to accomplish when your mind and actions are aligned with your intentions. How much time have you actually gained in this process?
Simply by looking at how, when, and where we are spending our time, we can actually gain time (and some spaciousness for ourselves!), while also increasing our quality of life!
In addition, here are 3 practices you can use to sharpen your focus:
Meditation trains our brain to focus just on the breath. This singular focus is a natural and immediate remedy to our “A.D.D.” culture…We are giving ourselves the opportunity to be silent and focused only on meditating. Also, meditation includes the practice of bringing your mind back to the breath when it wanders.
#2. Watch your distractions
I have been developing a practice of watching how I get distracted. Just noticing all of those moments when I stop what I’m doing to send that quick email, text, etc. The more we become aware of what distracts us and what we allow to “steal” our time (as the author states), the more we will come back to doing what we originally said we intended to do.
#3. Set your Intentions
Setting intentions moves you from being a victim to a creator in your life. You have a say in how you want any situation to unfold. Before you move into a new situation (going into a meeting, exercising, meeting a friend, etc.), take a moment to close your eyes, be still and connect with your center. Then, state your intention by writing down specifically what you want to accomplish. You’ll find that you will have more focus, and the desired outcome happens with more ease— simply by stating what you intend to create.
Here’s an example of setting an intention (with time boxing):
Between 11am-12pm Tuesday, Tracy/my writing assistant and I will create a brilliant blog together, easily and effortlessly.
What are your distractions costing you?
There’s an energetic cost to this busy-addicted, multitasking, social media (pinball machine) culture. It’s creating A.D.D. brain functioning… and it’s a drain on our energy and our sense of fulfillment in life. I have found that when I stay on task and do what I say I’m going to do—I’m not only more productive, but I also feel more energized and uplifted. Slowing down, creating space for ourselves, and being present with each project, task, person and circumstance allows for more quality—more energy and more satisfaction in our lives. It also absolutely contributes to our ability to realize our intentions and create a field of attraction!