Learning to Enjoy LIFE by Eliminating Distractions

Allowing distractions to steal your attention negatively impacts your life. Instead, develop habits that help you focus and free you to experience true joy.

by Denee Bowers
I spend so much of my life distracted that I barely notice when it’s happening. 

Like, do you ever pick up your phone to look up a specific bit of information, but before you make it to Google you see a little red notification and decide to check it real quick? Then of course you spend 10 minutes scrolling, and before you know it you completely forget why you picked up your phone in the first place? 

Yeah, me neither. 

Constantly allowing unnecessary information to steal our attention can have a significant negative impact on our lives, especially when it comes to our spiritual health. Throughout the Bible we are shown lots of examples of the importance of being able to focus. Our relationships with God, ourselves, and others are all negatively impacted when we are distracted. 

So, what do we do? One approach would be ruthless elimination of all distractions. Throw our phones in the ocean and move to the desert to live in solitude. Sounds pretty boring, but you could try it. Alternatively, you could develop habits in the life you are already living that cut down on distractions and increase your joy.

3 tips to remove distractions from your life

1. Monotasking

Raise your hand if you have ever been caught bragging about your top-notch multi-tasking skills. Yes, most of us think of multi-tasking as a strength. To cut back on distractions, though, you might want to try monotasking.

The idea is simple: intentionally focus on just one thing at a time. Start with something enjoyable like reading a book, listening to music, or going for a walk. Don’t mix other activities in, but instead really think about what you are doing. Use your senses to keep your mind engaged in what you are doing. Think about what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. 

When you get good at doing just one thing you enjoy, you can use those same skills to focus on work, chores, or practices like prayer and journaling.

2. Use your flashlight

Author and neuroscientist Dr. Amishi Jha studies the relationship between attention, focus, concentration, and mindfulness. She describes our ability to focus as a flashlight. When we point our focus flashlight in a particular direction, our brains are able to do incredible things. We only have one beam, though, so we have to be aware of how we are using it.

When you are focusing on one task, you have to let other thoughts go dark for a bit. Try keeping a notepad nearby where you can jot down distracting thoughts that come into your mind. Not all distractions are all bad, they just aren’t helpful right now. Keeping a list of things to come back to later can give you the freedom to lock in on what is right in front of you.

3. Put 👏 the 👏 phone 👏 down 👏

The simplest answer to a lot of our distractions can also be the hardest to overcome. Our phones. I love my phone. You love your phone. Phones can be great! But, we know they are a huge source of distractions. 

Having some simple rules for yourself around phone usage can be a great place to start. Set times when you won’t use your phone and then literally put it in another room. Most phones have settings which allow you to set focus times or allow you to snooze notifications for a designated amount of time. When you are sharing a meal or hanging out with friends, be intentional about not checking it. Switch from digital to analog and move a task you used to do on your phone to old school pen and paper.

Why should you remove distractions anyway?

Distractions offer us a momentary escape. For a minute (or 20), we don’t have to think about what is right in front of us. After that’s over, though, we often feel guilty about wasting time, not being present with our people, or missing out on meaningful moments. This doesn’t have to be the story of our lives. God has surrounded us with opportunities to experience joy, if only we are paying attention.
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