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What Are Your Risks? Weapons of Mass Distraction

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5 Ways to Decrease Distraction in Life and Business

We are in the midst of an epidemic. The disease is getting worse with the ever increasing technology and demands on our time and attention. People don’t have time to think. Businesses don’t have time to plan. People spend all day answering email, checking social media, and responding to group texts. The hours go by and the list gets longer. How can we stop this distraction epidemic?

I have to admit that I have been infected, and I am always looking for a cure. Last night we watched the 1986 movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. The movie was still very enjoyable, but it was dated. There was a scene where Ferris was talking to Freshmen on a pay phone (no cell phones). Thirty years ago, computers were much more basic, there was no such thing as texting, and FaceBook didn’t exist. It was interesting that one of the themes of the movie was Ferris Bueller telling the audience to take the time to enjoy life and have fun.

What can we do to minimize distractions and focus on what is important? Here are 5 ideas:

1. Morning Quiet Time

For those who aren’t morning people, you are missing out. There is so much greatness that can happen from 5am-7am in the morning. I start the day in prayer and read the Bible.There is a reason it is the most published book in the world. According to Guinness Book of World Records, there may be as many as 5 billion Bibles published since the early 1800s. You can’t argue that there isn’t some wisdom and value to reading it.

Prayer, meditation, and journaling are all extremely valuable at the beginning of the day. This activity helps to be grateful, gain perspective, consider others, and ask God for wisdom.

Be intentional in journaling. I wrote recently about the 100 plan Freedom Journal. As a small business owner and one who provides CFO services to small business owners, I find journaling about the following things each morning to be extremely valuable:

  • Think about something you are grateful for.
  • Write down the one main goal you or your business is working toward.
  • List 2 things you are doing today to help you move toward the main goal.
  • Write down a high-level action plan for the day. Putting all this on a calendar is even more helpful.

2. Exercise

I know this is not news to most people. The problem is that it is hard to exercise consistently. For quite some time I have exercised about 3-4 days a week. I noticed recently I was not getting the results I wanted, so I bit the bullet and hired a trainer. I know this is an investment. I have only gone to one training session, and I almost died. I plan to get down to my wedding weight, get more toned, and do strength training. The goal is to feel better, be healthier, have more energy, more mental focus, and sleep better. Everything is interrelated. The trainer functions as built-in accountability and also gives advice on what I am eating. He takes all kinds of measurements so I can see progress.

3. Use Technology to Fight Technology

Unless we have some kind of apocalyptic event soon, technology is probably not going away. We need to live with it. I think there is the good and bad with everything. Cell phones, computers, Google, and social media are wonderful inventions if used correctly, but they can be easily misused. Here are some ideas:

  • Utilize the “Do Not Disturb” function on your phone.
  • Turn off email notifications.
  • Use “Focus@Will” or something like it.  Music can help you to focus and block out distractions when doing something that requires all of your attention.
  • Use an online calendar to time-block important meetings and activities.
  • Listen to free podcasts on productivity, leadership, personal development, and success. EOFire, Michael Hyatt’s “This is Your Life”, and Ziglar’s “True Performance” podcasts are excellent.

4. Schedule Time That Is Not Scheduled

We all need to have margin in our life that is not scheduled. This is a challenge for me. I try to leave Sunday afternoons open for this. I would probably recommend more time than this, but it all depends on what phase of life you are in. Those with young families, demanding jobs, and business owners probably will have a bit less time than those who are not married, do not have kids or are in the “golden years” of life.

In Michael Hyatt’s book “This is Your Life”, he talks about putting together a 3-year plan. I am not saying that this plan must be set in stone. I am sure things will change. The point is to schedule big events such as holidays, anniversaries, and vacations. I am trying to spend individual time with each of my four kids, and I have these dates scheduled for the rest of the year.

5. Enjoy God’s Creation

There is something relaxing about being outside with fresh air and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I have always found trips to the mountains or the beach to be relaxing. It can be as easy as taking a walk around the neighborhood or finding a state park to take a hike. Dr. Mercola mentions in an article that getting outside enhances creativity, focus, mood, and self-esteem.

New distractions will come along as technology advances. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but we need to be in control of our time and our attention. Make it a priority to have a morning quiet time, exercise, be smart with technology, schedule unscheduled time, and enjoy the outdoors.