How to Get Rid of Distractions

by Dr. Karen Osburn on February 18, 2014

Do you ever feel distracted?  Overwhelmed?  Overloaded?  Find it hard to focus?  Bounce from one task to the next?  

Me, too.  

The internet is awesome.  Social media is great.  I love my iPhone.  However, in this age of information and whatever we want and need to know at our fingertips, some days it can make your head spin.  

So how do we get rid of the distractions?  

How we focus on what’s most important, and tune out the rest?  

How do we put first things first, when it seems like everything needs to come first?  

My hope with this blog post is to give you some tips, some direction, and some tools to help guide you through the complexities of life in today’s modern world, and get back to what’s most important.  

Disclaimer:  I am not an expert at this.  I often try and test systems, to only slide back to old habits some days.  But I’m working on it, and I think, getting better at it.  So hopefully I can shed some light on this for you.  

How to Get Rid of Distractions: The Top 5 List! 

1.  You have to figure out your core values first.  

I’ve blogged about this a few times, most recently here.  Your core values are like your roadmap for life.  They are your guide to compare decisions and choices and actions against,  to help determine if they make sense and are aligned with what’s most important to you in life.  

Your core values are the foundation, and without them, you will tend to be reactive to the circumstances and choices in your day and in your life.  

Honestly, take an hour, a few hours, or half a day to start the process of really determining your core values.  This is a game changer, and if you only took action on this one step, it would create a massive positive shift in your life.  

2. Create routines and rituals in your life.  

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Now you may feel this is really anal retentive to map out what you do each day. But really, you already have some semblance of a schedule and routines in your life: the hours that you work, when you drop and pick up your kids at school/hockey/gymnastics/swim lessons, when you put your kids to bed or when you wake up in the morning, when you take your next vacation…..you get the idea.  

Now imagine if you took the things that are most important to you in your life (again, back to core values), and scheduled those in just like the examples above.  

Let’s take exercise.

Perhaps you’d like to get to Crossfit Edmonton (shameless plug for my most amazing gym) 3 times a week, a hot yoga class weekly, and walk your dogs 4 times a week. 

Okay, this is me.  

Confession time here…I only make one of these 3 exercise goals work for me on a regular basis.  You wanna know why?  Yup, I schedule them.  

I go to Crossfit Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the 9:15 am class.  Now set in stone.  I schedule other things around it.  

And why it doesn’t work for my goals of a weekly hot yoga class and dog walks?  Yup, you guessed it.  Not scheduled.  

Now, I’ve attempted a schedule for both of these, and have had reasons (read: excuses) to not follow through. It’s too cold, I don’t want to leave Ed alone with the boys by himself on a Sunday morning, I need to get other things done, or other various reasons why I have not made these happen.  And I know that until I schedule this and get my butt outside even when it’s a little cold to walk the dogs, or be okay with the boys going crazy as I walk out the door to get my namaste on at yoga, these will never happen. 

Schedule your routines and rituals, and they will happen. 

3. Get rid of things that do NOT fit with your core values.  

I gave up TV last year.  I’ve watched a few shows here and there.  But probably about 10 hours of TV since January 2013.  

Why? 

I made a big commitment to learning in 2013, and that included reading 30-60 minutes each day.  TV time interfered with that, so I let it go.  

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My life long commitment!

But now, if I do decide to watch an episode a very funny show, like Modern Family, I’m maxed at 1 or maybe 2 episodes.  There’s nothing wrong with entertainment.  However, I start to feel like I’m wasting my time after that, and would rather read, get to bed early, or invest time in a personal or business project I’m working on.  

So sitting passively in front of a TV was simply a distraction in my life of something really important to me: learning.  So away it went.  

What can you let go of that no longer fits with your core values and is simply a distraction in your life? 

4. Let go of relationships with people that do not share your core values.  

Crap.  Core values.  Again. 

Yup.  

I’ll share a personal story about this, one that I just talked to a friend about this morning. 

I had a group of friends that violated a very important friendship with a good friend of mine.  Their actions, decisions, and choices were completely against my core values.  I thought about it for a while, and didn’t simply react to what had happened.  But the more I reflected on it, the more I realized how stressful it made me feel trying to justify their actions or understand their intentions and motives.  These were friendships that were broken beyond repair.  It was time to let them go.  

It sucked.  These were people that I considered to be friends.  However, they no longer fit in with what was most important to me-integrity, honesty, authenticity. So I utilized my doorman principle and let them go.

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You may be thinking….well what if they were childhood friends?  Or co-workers?  Or gasp, what about family? 

There may be relationships in your life that you don’t want to completely sever, but perhaps need to openly communicate your boundaries of what you will and will not tolerate.  I know some people that have done this.  They have simply told that person that if they cross that boundary or line, they will hang up the phone, leave the restaurant, or simply walk away from the conversation with them.  So there are certain parts of that person they love and don’t necessarily want them out of their life, but are honest about the parts they don’t like, and how they will no longer tolerate them in the relationship.  

You have to really decide what is best for you, and how you will handle this with the difficult relationships in your life.  

Sorry, this is a tricky one.  No easy sound bite to solve it. 

It may be uncomfortable.  Absolutely.  But perhaps the pain of setting that clear boundary will be far less pain than if you continue to eat crow and put up with people in your life that stress you out, make you angry, or simply do not feel good about being around.  I’ll let you mull on that one.  

5. Set up internet and social media boundaries.  

I blogged about unplugging in a recent post here.  I do a lot of connecting on social media as part of my vision, as well as writing this blog. 

But it can be addictive. 

I’ve set up boundaries with when I check email and social media (ideally, just twice a day during the week).  The first day I did this, I was so antsy. I did it more from the standpoint of being efficient with my time, but  did not realize how much I was truly wired in.  I still find this a challenge, as my days are often so different with work and family commitments.  However, the days I adhere more to this schedule (again, I’m a work in progress, just like you), the less stress I feel, the more I get done, and the more accomplished I feel.  

Maybe for you, it can be unplugging completely for a weekend, when you’re on holidays, or after a certain time in your day.  But not having boundaries when our phones and tablets and computers are so readily available is a huge distraction and time waster in your day. 

Get disciplined and really master this one, and see your time suddenly open up for more things you’d like to be, do and include in your life.  

So there’s your Top 5 Tips for Eliminating Distraction-ta da!

What do you think of them? How do you get rid of distractions in your life?  What tips can you share with others that follow this blog?  

Do tell!  Simply post in the comments section, on Facebook, Twitter, or feel free to privately email me (drkaren@synergyfamilywellnesscentre.com).  

Let’s work together to reduce the ‘Squirrel!’ moments in our lives!

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