Living in a society that throws each of us more distractions per hour than we can count on our fingers can leave us with the feeling of always being behind. At some point, we acknowledge that we are never going to catch up and our incentive to stay ahead of the game dwindles. Compound this by the fact that everything has to be attended to “now” as we juggle multiple high-priority items, and rarely have enough time to do a good job on any task, let alone multiple tasks. Why bother at all. Sooner or later we end up dropping all of the balls and even though we’ve admitted defeat, the feeling of having a moment to stay still is long overdue and a welcome state.
Take myself, for instance. I have two “under construction” websites, several (about 20) half-written potential blog articles that have popped into my head and scrambled to write down the thesis and main points before they are lost forever, multiple cut-down-on clutter projects in my house, and the list goes on and on. When I sitting down to write now-a-days, I feel like a criminal stealing time I don’t have to do something that I’m being called to do (writing is like breathing for me). Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to make writing a priority, nor do I see this happening any time soon.
The truth is, I am overwhelmed by my lack of time, as I’m sure many people are, in addition to being divided on too many things (a common sense correlation). I have a difficult time saying “no” to anything. The times I say no, I usually get talked into saying yes. (Why do people do that anyway? It’s annoying! Does the way I say “no” lack conviction? Do I need to anticipate having to say “no” at least twice to be better mentally prepared?) On top of multiple interests, divided attention, and the feeling that I’ll never get anything done, it’s easy to let in mindless distractions as well (like Netflix, video games, and browsing end-less social media). Technology-fuelled distractions are currently at our fingertips, and they are masters of time-stealing, while posing as excuses for needed down time.
When I travelled to Australia by myself in 94/95, with no cell phone, email or a digital camera, it must have been like a disappeared off the face of the planet to my friends and family in Calgary. Let’s examine the benefits of such a trip. I was forced to “be in the moment”. I was able to make friends, pick my travel route, stay extra days wherever I wanted, and spend entire days on the beach reading or writing in my journal… I had all the time in the world! Sounds ideal right? Not exactly. Lower paying / labourer jobs can lead to a lack of goals and future planning, which can lead to spending every night drinking in pubs with friends. Not a good long-term life outlook, but okay for a while when in your early twenties. And I digress. The point is, I had more time. I had more time to think. I had more time to really get to know people. I had more time to just be.
So what is the answer. How do we regain control of our lives, our dreams, our goals, our passions?
I have several examples of what is working for me. I’m not going to lie, though, it takes dedication, patience and practice.
- I wake up at 4:30 am every morning and have a routine. I meditate for 30 minutes and then spend two hours working on creative projects, which includes journalling so that I can keep all of my brilliant ideas recorded and straight.
- I try to workout three times a week. I have some great work-out DVDs and I can work out at home with a set of weights and a mat. My favourites are the Crunch series of workouts and anything by trainer Tamilee Webb.
- I go for a walk outside every lunch hour.
What works for you? Be sure to comment with your favourite methods to ground, limit distractions, and remaining focussed for important task completion.