Facing distractions head-on!

This used to be a scenario at home: When it’s my turn to look after Chantelle, I play with her, read books to her, teach her new things, then my phone notifies me with it’s distracting tone. I then open my email or my facebook, youtube, and start scrolling, read a few updates, watch videos but soon I get lost in the swarm of distractions of little things, and two hours have gone by without getting or doing something more meaningful with my daughter.

Sometimes I’m there and focused, but I end up putting it off because I got used to multi-tasking and what I noticed was is that it’s hard to focus and do more thoughtful tasks when in multi-tasking mode.

This happens to me all the time. Whether it’s playtime with Chantelle, studying for a new skill, having conversations with friends, at work, or even just relaxing. I easily get distracted and forget about accomplishing that important task.

Why? Because this are what distractions do. We get carried away by something that we can run to — comfort, ephemeral happiness, temptation.

I recently listened to a podcast interview where Rich Roll interviewed Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and what hit me was when he (Leo) said that these distractions are a form of “greed” and that it pulls us out of our main tasks.

We tend to run away from these tasks because we are:

• Bored

• Stressed-out

• Have a need to catch-up in social media

• Discontent with what we have

• Thought of not being busy

And what I eventually learned from this is that we have to face this greed and overcome it. Refocus on what is the bigger task. I ended up doing the following:

Meditation. I started learning meditation just recently where you have to just focus on your breath and nothing else. If you feel bored, distracted, or develop mix thoughts, go back to the breathing. Once I’ve followed this, it helped me refocus and I applied it to other tasks:

• When eating, I eat what is nourishment for the body even if it tastes different as long as it will serve as fuel for the body.

• When running/exercising, I focus on my breath, the breeze of the wind, the pain in my muscles and overcome them.

• When having a conversation, I stay on the topic, share my thoughts, and add value to what I’m saying.

Recognise the distraction. From meditation, you can identify what’s that discomfort you’re feeling when distracted. Get to know it, find it in your body, be aware of this. What I do is be aware of the value it gives me, if it adds value, I continue to do it, otherwise I avoid it.

Saying ‘Yes’ / Saying ‘No’. Remember that saying ‘yes’ to some things will leave you to say ‘no’ to others. If you say ‘yes’ to social media, games, binge-watching on youtube, you then say ‘No’ to the more important things. Why not interchange that?

Switch your mode. I used to do different things at the same time and it was stressful and took up all my energy. Now I slowed down. I prepare myself for less multi-tasking and more on single-tasking.

Know your purpose. Using meditation, I now take 2 seconds to remind myself of my original purpose before I get distracted. Then I switch my focus back to that.

From the culture of a 90's kid who grew up to technology, It was difficult, but it changed the way how I dealt with distractions completely.