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Is distraction destructing you?

June 23, 2014

There are so many opportunities created by life for us to laugh hysterically but unfortunately, we are so busy passing through life to notice those moments. We are so busy being busy we forget to enjoy the free unique pleasures life always throws our way. What I have realized is that if we were to look at life from a “lighter view” we would realize there is so much humor in our day to day lives, enough to have us laughing all the time. I’ll give you an example…

Picture a scenario where you are in a public office, or walking on the streets when suddenly you hear a phone ringing. Of course you are not bothered because you know it is not your phone, but what bothers you is the person who picks up the phone. Actually, it is not so much the person but the way he picks up the phone. You will be forgiven for thinking the person is addressing an open-air crusade. This is exactly what happened to me late last week.

I was in hospital waiting patiently like other patients to see the doctor when suddenly the phone belonging to the patient on my left started ringing. When he answered the phone, I can almost bet that the guard on the ground floor heard this patient talking. Worse still, he was gesticulating all over the place, nearly accidentally slapping me in the process. He sounded and looked so funny that it got at least 90% of the patients waiting in line bursting out in laughter. Thankfully the guy realized people were laughing at him and in embarrassment, he stepped outside to continue shouting at a safe distance.

One good thing came out of this incident; it broke the ice between the patients and where they were previously either silent or fiddling with their phones, they now started talking to each other. By the time the noise-maker came back guys were deep in conversation about other things, but that did not stop them from bursting out laughing as soon as he came in. He however apologized and said that the person he was talking to was in a noisy place and so he had found himself shouting in order to drown the noise on the other end.

Personally I found this whole incident very funny and being one who laughs easily, I couldn’t hold back my laughter. That right there was free comedy but unfortunately, not everyone saw the funny side of that incident. Some people were actually highly irritated and as such missed seeing the humor in the whole incident.

It is interesting how this gentleman automatically raised his voice to try drowning the noise on the other hand. It didn’t matter to him that he was in a public place, a hospital for that matter. This is exactly what happens in life too. There is so much noise surrounding us that it becomes hard to hear our own thoughts. The noise follows us everywhere we go making it hard for us to focus on the important things. The noise is so loud that we make fools of ourselves by the way we react/behave towards it.

This noise can be described as the distractions that cause us to lose focus on the important things in our lives. These distractions cause us to mismanage our time, causing us to focus on what is “urgent” instead of what is important and necessary. They cause us to spend time on things we should not be focusing on at that particular time. If you ask me, one of the biggest “noise-maker” in our lives today is the smartphone. As much as this gadget is supposed to make life easy for us, it looks like the reverse is true; the smartphone has made our lives more complex than ever before. It has turned us into willing slaves. Then there is the Television.

Picture these scenarios here; your boss is bugging you to hand in that status report, or your husband wants you to sit down and talk finances, or your son needs help with his homework. You obviously know all these are important issues, yet there you are sitting, frittering away precious minutes, checking tweets from those you follow on Twitter, or Googling from link to link or just flipping from channel to channel. Pretty soon you realize time is so much gone and you haven’t done anything you needed to do. Suddenly everything becomes urgent and as a result, you become harassed and you start regretting why you wasted time doing unnecessary things. You just became another victim of technology, sadly though, a very willing slave.

With scenarios like the ones mentioned above, is it a wonder then that people are always in a rush, too busy to even notice the little things that add flavor to our lives, like the funny incident I mentioned earlier on? So how do we make sure we protect ourselves from these distractions? I will use some vital lessons I learnt from a program I attended sometime last year called The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity, a product of FranklinCovey. By the way, after attending this program, I realized there is nothing like a course in Time Management. Time management is a lifestyle you adopt. Anyway, I digress but you need to attend the 5 Choices program to understand what I mean.

Moving on, so how do you handle the “noise” (distractions) in your life? As the program stated, the first thing you need to do is learn how to Act on the important stuff, instead of reacting to what is urgent. Yes there is a difference and once you learn how to separate the two then you are on your way to freedom from “slavery”.  Something else you need to do is Schedule the big rocks, instead of sorting gravel. Big rocks are the things that really matter to our lives, e.g. family, your career, your spirituality, etc. Gravel is a representation of the other things (the noise mentioned above) that will always come to try and distract us from focusing on what is of importance to us. Once you schedule your big rocks, you will realize that in due course, somehow the gravel will fit into your schedule.

Then there is you Ruling your technology instead of you letting it rule you. Remember the slavery I mentioned above? Now this is you taking charge of your situation and freeing yourself from the technology bondage. Yes, if you cannot go without your smartphone for even an hour, indeed you are a slave to your phone.  If you have to be home by a certain time just to watch some show on TV, then you are a slave to your TV. If you HAVE TO know what is happening on social media every single minute, then you are not only a slave but you also suffer what we call FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out.

In a nutshell, we need to do everything in moderation otherwise we will go mad in this fast moving world. We need to control the noise around us by deliberating making decisions that will distance us from that noise. Like stated in The 5 Choices program, you need to make the right choices for your life including setting time for relaxation, otherwise your productivity takes a complete nose dive, transforming you into a non-productive person. This is what The 5 Choices program calls Fueling your Fire, meaning you need to take deliberately time out to relax and recoup in order to avoid burnout.

We need to slow down sometimes and just relax and be quiet and calm. It is in times of quietness that you get great ideas because at last you can hear yourself think. No wonder it is during quietness that even God speaks to us. To quote Mother Theresa, we need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls”.

Question to you this week is, are you in control of the noise around you or is the noise so loud that you can’t even hear the thoughts running through your own mind? Take control of the noise around you before it takes control of you.

Wishing you all a nice, calm and noise-free week by choice.

Note: If you would be interested in going through The 5 Choices of Extraordinary Productivity program, feel free to get in touch with me and I will assist. In the meantime, watch the attached video and let me know if it resonates with you. If it does, then you need this program as soon as yesterday.

PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 22nd June, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"

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Wonderful lesson for every single person. Thank you so much my sister. You are amazing, you learn in everything. Thank you Liz. Make sure you rest and get quiet time. Much love. Consoler

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