Learning how to avoid distractions and stay focused is crucial and in this post I'll share a simple challenge to help you with that!
How much time do you spend on your phone? Is it your main source of distraction or is something else?
Today I’m going to share a little exercise you can try, to avoid that distraction and keep your focus where you want it to be.
How to Avoid Distractions and Stay Focused
In this video, I share my experience with something I thought was productive turning into a time-waster and how I started to turn it around. If you prefer to read rather than watch a video, I'll share the story below as well.
How I Fell Into the Distraction Trap
I love listening to educational podcasts & audiobooks. I started doing this quite a while ago and I really liked that I could get something productive like that accomplished while I worked on something that didn’t need my mental energy.
Soon I was so focused on being productive in this way that I would take my phone with me everywhere I went in the house.
I would play a podcast while I cleaned the kitchen, while I made breakfast, I would even set my phone on the counter when I used to the bathroom- I didn’t want to “waste” any time by just doing one task during a time period when I could be doing 2!
Too Much Screen Time
Then one day I found out that my phone logged my screen time and when I looked into it, I was shocked by how much time I was actually spending on my phone. We all know that's not good for us!
I knew that part of that time was spent doing less productive things like checking social media & getting sucked into the scroll.
So I didn’t change anything right away, but I started to pay attention to the times & ways that I was using my phone because I wasn’t sure how much of that screen time was productive and how much was time wasting.
I noticed one more thing- that when my alarm on my phone woke me up in the morning, I would turn it off & then check my email, my Instagram, and maybe Facebook or Twitter. And I would get sucked into the scroll. I realized that those “quick checks” easily took good chunks of time.
How to Use Your Phone Less
After observing myself for a while, I decided to go one morning without looking at my phone. I powered it down at night and the next morning, my phone being off reminded me of my plan, so I left my phone in my room and went about my morning.
I was kind of shocked and disturbed by how often I felt the “need” to look at my phone. Every time I was busy doing something and didn’t have someone nearby to talk to, I had the urge to turn on a podcast. Whenever I transitioned from one task to another, I had the urge to look at Instagram for a moment, for a little break. I felt like I was wasting time if I went to the bathroom and didn’t have my phone with me to listen to a podcast while I was in there!
The transition moments were especially interesting to me. It was like I had become uncomfortable with enduring even short moments without filling the time. The moment after realizing I didn’t have my phone nearby and would be choosing not to get it felt uncomfortable.
Why was it uncomfortable?
I realized that this was related to mindfulness. Those moments were opportunities for me to be still and to connect to the present moment and just experience the moment but I had been in such a habit of feeling every spare moment in the name of productivity that I was also stealing all of the opportunities for mindful moments!
So when I noticed that feeling of discomfort when I couldn’t turn to my phone, I tried to recognize that that moment was an opportunity for me to be mindful.
The easiest way for me to think of choosing to be mindful in a moment is to think of my 5 senses and if you’ve watched some of my other mindfulness videos, you’ve heard me say before that I will stop and take inventory of each of my senses to see what they’re experiencing as a way to become present and mindful of the present moment.
No Phone Challenge
So I have a 2-part challenge for you. Maybe your phone is also a distraction for you- it is for many of us. But if you have something else in mind that’s more of a distraction for you, you can adapt the challenge for that thing. One example of a different distraction could be turning on the radio every time you get in your car, rather than driving in silence.
Part 1 of the challenge is to try powering your phone down for a morning or an afternoon or an evening (choose a time when you would normally use it here and there).
This will help you to catch yourself each time you go to reach for your phone to fill time.
I suggest that before you start, you check your phone’s screen time records to see what your average daily and weekly screen time looks like. Then after you try this challenge for a day or a week, compare your screen time and see how much time you’ve saved yourself.
Peace in the Present Moment
Part 2 is if you have those moments of discomfort like I did, try to use that moment of discomfort as a reminder to either pay attention to your thoughts or become present and mindful by taking an inventory of your 5 senses and focus on experiencing that moment more mindfully.
As you get more comfortable with choosing to be present in the moment, you'll be surprised by the peace you can find in moments like that. I have another video all about this process of using your senses to move into mindfulness that I’ll link to if you want to check it out after this.
I also have a video about how to stop worrying that you might find helpful if listening to your thoughts in these moments becomes stressful or causes anxiety. In it I share some things that have helped me when I catch myself worrying or stressing over things.