I recently set myself the task of working on some bigger writing projects that require more of my focus.
One of these being a guide to developing a journaling practise.
I know I’ve got it in me, I know I have a lot to share but something keeps cropping up that’s blocking me from getting my head down.
I’m distracted, easily.
By emails, whatspp, instagram, even the BBC weather app seems to call my name when I sit down to write.
I'm buzzing with connectivity and it’s fragmenting my attention into tiny pieces that are highly susceptible to wearing thin.
It’s been quite eye opening.
I didn’t realise how much power all the things vying for my attention actually had.
The world is more distracting than ever before.
Thanks to smartphones we are constantly connected and therefore constantly contactable.
Many of us sleep with our phones by our beds and can go from week-to-week without straying more than a few meters away from our little portals to a world of content calling out to be consumed.
The lure factor of notifications and staying updated is huge and it’s our ability to offer our full attention to things that’s taking the hit.
Like how a muscle becomes weak when it isn’t used, our attention shrivels if we don't actively strengthen it.
No wonder I was finding sitting down to write such a struggle, my attention muscle was fatiguing at the first hurdle.
Something had to change, starting with a rejig of who was wearing the trousers in my relationship with my phone.
Cue operation ‘less distraction more attention’ which includes the following steps:
- Move my email and social media apps to the last page on my phone so they aren't glaring at me when I unlock my home screen
- Use instagram more consciously; no scrolling on the bus, before bed, first thing in the morning, notice when i'm mindless scrolling
- Use whatsapp more consciously; don’t get side tracked by new notifications and wait for a good moment to respond rather than feeling the need to reply instantly
- Answer emails in one go at a designated time of the day rather than as they come in
- Resist the temptation to check my phone when I have no real need to
- Commit to doing one task at a time as much as possible rather than fritting in between several.
These are relatively small steps but i'm already feeling a sense of spaciousness from being less plugged in to a constant stream of content.
Sitting still has become easier.
Doing nothing has become easier.
Now I see that being mindful of what I gift my attention to will only become more urgent as the world becomes more distracting.
More than just being able to get my head down and create good work, toning my attention is about living consciously, being connected to the moment and to myself.
I’m not sure what’s more crucial than that.