One of the biggest reasons why so many of us find it difficult to beat distraction and live our loves more intentionally is that we’re often totally unaware that we’re distracted while it’s actually happening. Eventually, we come back to the present moment and wonder how we allowed ourselves to waste so much time.
The key to beating distraction has everything to do with increasing our awareness as we feel the urge to indulge in that distraction. Either we’ll decide to do it while being fully aware of what we’re doing (which should help cut down on time spent being distracted), or we’ll decide that we don’t want to indulge in our distractive behavior after all.
When we’re completely aware of what we’re doing in the present moment, reality reveals the deeper truths behind everything we choose to do. Whether we’re distracting ourselves by watching funny cat videos on the internet or taking care of someone else’s problems, if our awareness is high, our bodies will make it clear to us that we’re doing something unimportant and avoiding something else we really ought to be doing.
So how can we become more aware of how distracted we are? The following three simple solutions will help a great deal. Start with one, but consider doing all three for the best results.
Meditation is all about reaching higher states of awareness. Even if you just made a habit out of closing your eyes, sitting in silence, and focusing on your breath for 10 to 20 minutes every day, you’d eventually notice yourself maintaining a higher state of awareness as you go about the rest of your everyday life.
If you want to exercise your awareness muscle, meditate. Distractions won’t seem nearly as appealing as they were compared to before you started meditating regularly because a higher state of awareness will naturally keep you from getting sucked into them.
Associate Mindfulness With Distractive Habits
You can actually train yourself to be more aware of your worst distractive habits by using them as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness simply involves being present in the moment — wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, and whatever you’re feeling.
For example, if you have a bad habit of checking your email multiple times a day on your smartphone and losing valuable time because of it, you could consciously select a “trigger” — like the visual icon of your email on your phone, or the feeling you get when you want to pick up your phone to check it — and use it to activate mindfulness during that very moment.
Listen to Your Body
Here’s a seemingly counterintuitive piece of advice you won’t hear from productivity gurus: Allow yourself to indulge in your distractive behaviors, if that’s what you really want to do. But — and this is a big but! — work on heightening your awareness and being mindful while you’re doing it.
Being mindful as you allow yourself to follow your natural desire to indulge in distraction will make you aware of the signals your body is sending you about what you’re doing. It might be a physical feeling, an emotion, or even that little voice inside your head telling you that what you’re doing isn’t serving you, that you actually don’t even like it, that you really want to be doing something else, that you’re covering up your fear, or something else more specific. With little awareness, it’s more difficult to get those signals.
These three simple practice are exactly what we all should be doing if we really want to master our actions and behaviours in the healthiest, most natural way possible. Forget maintaining willpower and focus on your level of awareness instead to beat distraction for good.