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!
[Tweet “We have to be intentional about doing the things that are important to us.”]
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.
[Tweet “To beat distractions, put your phone in a different room. Yep, you read that right. A different room.”]
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!
[Tweet “Let’s take time for the things we love again!”]
What do you do to beat distractions? I’d love to know!
[Tweet “How to beat distractions + get stuff done.”]
I have the same problems when I get sick! I’m always like, oh, I’ll take this as time to be in bed, but I’ll ALSO catch up on a, b, c and d, and then I end up running myself ragged. And these days it also takes me FOREVER to finish a book. I’ve started reading more before bed, though, and that helps.
Putting away my phone….something I have been trying SO HARD but it’s SO DANG HARD sometimes!! Such a great list, Crystal.
These are great tips! Sometimes I think it’s helpful to take a little break and come back to something later if I can’t stay focused.
Molly and Stacie
I’ve started putting my phone on airplane mode. I get so much more done when I don’t have a million and one notifications popping up on my phone.
Reading is one of my all-time favourite things to do, and I still struggle to make time for it. At the moment I’m in a phase where I’m pretty good at sitting down and relaxing with a book, but it’s not always like that. Sometimes a few weeks or even months will go by where I just can’t bring myself to read because I have a million things on my mind, and when I finally do have a moment to spare, I waste it watching TV. Distancing myself from my phone and laptop help out a lot, but I could still be much better at avoiding distractions.
Putting the phone in another ROOM is what works for me – ha!!
I definitely feel like being away from my phone works wonders for me! I however journal & feel once I clear my head of the clouds blocking my mind I am able to get back into the zone & get on with what I need to. It is so therapeutic for me – I do it almost daily!
Starting my day focusing on my intentions really works for me! When I meditate on my intentions, I seem to get so much more done!
Putting my phone away is the best method for me. The worst part is to actually keep it away. Usually adding it on DND works best.
I used to be able to become completely absorbed in a book as a kid (you know, before the internet took over…) and then something happened when I majored in English in college and had to read books whether I was bored by them or not. I’ve loved getting back into reading for fun again, but I definitely have to pick something that interests me enough to drown out all the other distractions. And I’ve been keeping a list of books I’ve finished this year, and I think that sense of completion and accomplishment drives me!
It’s definitely hard these days – even when I put my phone away and turn the TV off, I find myself reaching for it after a few minutes! I love to read though so if I can get lost in a book then I can spend hours reading it – I just need to reach that point of getting sucked in. And when I’m trying to get work done on the computer, closing out of facebook and email helps a lot.
Thanks for the tips! I’m unable to leave a book unfinished, if I start it I must end it even if I don’t like it. I always think, what if it gets better later?
This is so true but when that little device doubles as you reader 😞 I still end up getting distracted but once I’m into the book I can ignore the distractions 😊
First, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been ill and hope you are feeling better! This has been the worst season for sickies, eh?? I love the advice of turning off the volume and putting the phone in another room. I get so distracted by that stupid thing, too!! Also I have just started following that advice of putting away a book if it doesn’t hold my interest. Would rather spend my time invested in the books I read!
I even get distracted when reading sometimes. If I am reading a thought provoking book, I like to have scrap paper and a pen nearby. I can jot down any questions or thoughts that I am having and can think heavier on it later. On the plus side, those notes might just turn out to be the start of a blog post….or sometimes just the start of my grocery list.
You’ve inspired me to get back to reading again! I havent picked up a book in far too long. I’m going to challenge myself to stay focused too!
It is difficult not to be distracted. I find the best way – is early morning (very) or late at night when everyone is in bed. Otherwise it is when I am by myself in the office and no noise. If I read – I do get focused – so that’s a good thing. Just I don’t read a lot outside of what’s on my screen. Thankfully it’s educational – thanks for the good post!
Putting away my phone (or putting it on silent) is something I do when I need to get stuff done otherwise I get completely side tracked.
Definitely have to put the phone away and turn off the t.v.
Thank you for including something about if you’re not interested in reading a particular book, don’t continue to read it! I am embarrassed by how many books I forced myself to read because I thought there was some rule that I had to. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Now, if I’m not into a book, I just accept it for what it is and move along.
Put the phone away, for real! I get so much more done without the distractions of social media.
I’ve been suffering with a spinal injury so haven’t been able to do anything as I’ve been bed bound since leaving hospital. I haven’t done anything with my blog and have been so absent from social media, I actually miss it all
Oh man, I’ve been hearing horror stories about this stomach bug that’s been going around. Hope you are feeling better now! These are great tips, especially turning off the tv. I used to watch so much and when I moved, I got rid of my tv and have gotten so much more done since. 🙂