Happy Monday! Last week, you guys… last week was a rough one. I came down with a stomach bug and spent most of the week in bed and asleep. I pulled out my computer a few times to send a few emails and get a little bit of work done, but every small task I completed was followed by a nap, so I realized I wasn’t in the best shape to write anything substantial. The thing I noticed is that once I realized I was sick I started making a to-do list of things to get done for work, when really what I needed was to get some rest. There was a time when getting sick meant sleeping and reading, but those are two things I don’t take a lot of time for, even though they’re what I need to truly feel rested. Reading in particular is something that I’ve been missing. Yes, I’ve been reading, but it’s often a few chapters here and a few chapters there, slipped into in-between moments so that I can make sure I get my reading in. I’ve been able to get lost in stories, but not the way I used to. And I miss them! I also know that there are periods in life where you’re more distanced from books. That’s what I’ve been reminding myself when I look longingly at a stack of books that I want to immerse myself in. But, it’s also what I’ve been reminding myself for a few years, so I finally realized that if I’m going to read a book the way I’d like to again, I need to be more intentional about it and make sure that it fits into my life. We have to be intentional about all the things that are important to us. So, while I was sick last week I did get some work done, but I also took time to get some reading in. And it felt so, so good!
A big thing I noticed was how distracted I was when I sat down to try and read. That’s probably another thing that has inhibited my reading the last few years. It really concerned me when I realized that it was taking so long to get through one chapter just because I was so distracted. I used to have a decent attention span, where did that go? (Hint: a little device we’re all so attached to.) So, I decided I needed to fix the distraction problem. If you’d like to take time to read–or accomplish any task that requires some focus–here’s how I beat distractions to finish a book!
1 // Make sure it’s a book you want to read or a task you want to accomplish. Obviously if you’re not enjoying what you’re reading/doing, your mind is going to wander. So make sure you actually want to read it/do it! I used to be one of those who refused to put down a book. Someone spent time on this book and put their heart and soul into it. But… that doesn’t mean it’s for you! Every person isn’t going to like every book, so if it’s not for you, there’s no shame in putting it down. If it’s a book you own, you can donate it or take it to a used bookstore and allow it to find a new home with someone who will enjoy it. There are too many books and not enough time to read books you don’t like.
2 // Start small. Not only did it take me awhile to get through a chapter, but I had trouble focusing throughout just a little section of a chapter. So that’s where I started. I’m going to get through the next section without picking up my phone. After I was able to complete some sections, I focused on getting through chapters, and after getting through chapters I started focusing on getting to a certain page number.
3 // Put away your phone. I don’t know about you, but my phone is a BIG distraction for me. Emails come in, social media notifications, text messages… That little screen lights up and it’s like a moth to a flame: must check now. How did we exist before we were able to send a text message and get in touch with someone right away? So, put your phone away. Like in a different room. Where you have to get up to go look at it. And make sure you turn the sound off, too! It drives me crazy if I can hear the text messages or notifications come in, but I can’t check it. Must check now! If you’re not as attached to your phone as I am, you can also try just turning off notifications, but I actually open my phone just to make sure I haven’t missed anything, so it has to be someplace else.
The crazy thing… toward the end of the weekend I actually unintentionally started to leave my phone behind when I was moving around the house and I didn’t miss it. It was nice!
4 // Get away from the TV. Watching a show, or movie, or YouTube video can sometimes feel easier than actually reading a book. I think there’s a time and place for all forms of media, so I don’t want to only watch TV. I want to enjoy a few TV shows, but also read books. So, when the TV was a distraction for me, I left the room and went to one without a TV.
5 // Feel the accomplishment. When you finish your book or whatever it is that you’re doing, take in how it feels. I was sad to leave new friends and a world the world I had just immersed myself in, but ready to take on a new adventure the next time I sit down to read. I felt settled and grounded after having taken time to read a book. I was also ready to take on some new tasks, now that I had taken time to rest and refresh.
I also had to find my phone.
6 // Start again. Take that time for yourself. It’s important to regularly take time out from the hustle of the day to do something for yourself. And it’s important to be able to break free from the distractions in order to do it. If you find yourself distracted the next time, that’s okay. I think it’s to be expected! So if you need, start small again, and work your way up.
Let’s focus on those things we love, again!
What do you do to beat distractions? I’d love to know!