4 Tips to Navigate the Chaos in Your Life and Focus on the Important Stuff

by

Distraction is the ultimate time-waster …

You’ve made up your mind: Today is going to be different.

This is the day you’ll begin focusing on those important priorities — the ones you never seem to have time to take care of. You begin by organizing your schedule, planning a meal menu for the week, making a grocery list, packing your gym bag, and then …

The phone rings. It’s your second cousin on your mother’s side and she wants to talk about the annual family reunion next year. She tells you it’s really important and going over the details won’t take long — she promises.

An hour later, you end the call, exhausted and drained from the overwhelming info dump about the picnic, her family, and everything going on in her life.

You check your watch, hoping you can get back on schedule — if you start right now. But then a text arrives, and instead of setting it aside in your mind, you decide to send off a quick response. After all, it will only take a minute.

Whoops, that email you’ve been waiting for just popped into your inbox. After a quick scan, you realize it doesn’t contain the information you asked for. And now you’ll have to spend a few more precious minutes on a reply re-explaining the problem, describing your previous conversations with customer service, and requesting an answer for what needs to be done to correct the situation.

As you finish the email, you wonder if your friends made it to that new restaurant last night. You decide to take a quick look on Instagram. And while you’re at it, you check Twitter and Facebook, too. By now, the morning has breezed by, and you realize you won’t be able to get everything done on your list — again. Something will have to wait, pushed aside to another day.

You start shutting down your browser, but not before a pop-up ad offering a flashy dose of body-image propaganda catches your eye — a new diet program promising to make you smarter, stronger, thinner, richer, prettier, healthier. Better than you are right now. Making a mental note to check it out later, you realize you won’t have time to go to the gym for a much-needed workout — again.

Cell phones, computers, tablets, smart watches — all common elements of our digital existence. And all loaded with distractions of a meaningless and energy-sucking nature. Add to the frenzy all the constant noise from TV sitcoms, the latest mini-series, drama fests — both vocal and visual — and other brain-sucking filler, and it’s no wonder most of us walk around like hypnotized zombies.

Our attention is consumed by commercials, screens, and media blitzes for fast-food, life-enhancing pharmaceuticals, and a stream of Google ads promoting products and services from the last dozen websites we visited.

Which brings me to the question: Is it really that important to constantly be “plugged in” to the most convenient visual receptacle, following what’s going on everywhere, with everyone, every minute of the day?

Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram are doing a good job of convincing us that it is. Collectively, these six companies want us to believe that spending time staring at our phones and computer screens is more important than pursuing our personal goals, spending time with friends, and taking care of our health.

Ready to stop the madness?

Aside from ditching all our treasured electronic devices and going off the grid (which sounds pretty good to me on some days), here are a few ideas to consider for keeping your sanity in check:

  • Know your interests and stay with them. Focus on those areas, activities, people, and groups that inspire and motivate you. Pursuing another’s passion only detracts from your personal goals and dreams — and creates an audience for someone else. What if you discover your interests have faded or no longer fulfill you? Have the courage to cut them loose and open your life, your mind, and your schedule to new possibilities.
  • Commit to pursuing your goals. If your attention is constantly being diverted by either design or choice, you may lose track of your purpose. Granted, avoiding a never-ending incoming stream of tantalizing seductions can be a challenge. But eventually, you’ll find yourself bored, empty, and unfulfilled. And all that time you spent chasing sparkly, shiny squirrels? Gone, never to be relived. Choose to pursue your own dreams — wherever they lead you.
  • Just say no to those who are determined to define your priorities. If others insist on controlling your life, ask yourself how much energy and time you’re willing to waste enabling another’s agenda. While it may seem easier not to argue, or make a stand, or take control, the consequences of giving up in deference to comfort by following the leader will eventually take its toll. Because not all leaders know where they’re going — and most of them don’t have the answers to their own problems, much less yours.
  • Get real about your time. Time is all we have — a non-replaceable asset with a limited shelf-life. Not knowing when your personal time will expire creates the fundamental baseline of choice. Are you willing to allow others to determine where your hours, days, and years will be spent? Think carefully before relinquishing this most precious treasure — a gift only you will receive the benefit of.

Stop wasting valuable moments with empty, unnecessary, and energy-sapping distractions.

Here’s the reality: You can’t recapture the past. The clock has moved forward – and so have you. Choose how to live your present moments every day — starting now!

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