Dealing with Distraction

I think you should know that I have been procrastinating on today’s blog idea for a few days. Even before I sat down to write, I tried to make a blog header (fail), watched an episode of Jeopardy!, ate twice, and taught my grandmother how to play chess.

Deliberate distraction, I would say. Procrastination and distraction seem to operate best together and not so well without each other. Procrastination happens when we are distracted from the main goal, when we fill our time with activities other than the one we should be doing.

I am a recovering procrastinator so, naturally, I wrestle with this. I will probably wrestle with time management my entire life. It’s just one of those things that requires a lot of work for my laid back personality. At the surface, procrastination seems like an inability to prioritize. That makes sense because when we procrastinate we are putting low-value activities above high-value activities. And I would say, in a way, yes, there is issue with the way we appraise pastimes.

While prioritization is a great topic (for another day), there is another side of it. We know that certain things come before others, as we have no problem rank ordering things in terms of importance. The problem is that we behave in ways that ignore the rank order.

I actually did set up goals for the year, and decided to review them on the 22nd (21st, but got busy) because that marked the completion of 3 weeks into 2019. They say you can make a new habit in 3 weeks. 

Daily devotional, so I should write one journal entry every day based on one Bible verse.
Success: 16/22 days
Daily reading, the goal is to finish one book per month, and the book I am currently reading has 30 or 31 chapters.
Success: 17/22 chapters read
*(some days I doubled up to account for missing days)
Daily drawing, to do one drawing or painting a day without self-criticism, just to get in the habit of learning art.
Success: 17/22 drawings
*(some days I doubled up, some days I did other creative things and excused myself)
Write daily: This goal was not specific at all, just “write.” I would only count it if the day made 500 words.
Success: 6/22 writings of 500+ words

Ok, so, I haven’t been terrible! Told you, I am recovering. However, I have still lacked on some days and never established a writing habit. After evaluating, I realized I had to come up with a better plan.

Revision requires reflection. When I looked back at the days I didn’t do anything, I blamed my pregnancy exhaustion or company coming over or my appointments. You know, I used the excuse that something still happened that day. But what also happened during those days were hours of internet browsing. (Gross, I know.) Hours that I lost on growing because I was distracted.

Sometimes I find excuses for my lack of progress, my time-wasting, or my LAZINESS because I have good intentions. Even if I failed to complete a project, the idea of the project was good. Even if I haven’t been consistent with goals, I made a list of goals. Even if I didn’t pray today, I still love God. 

Proverbs 14:23
“All hard work brings a profit,

    but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Facebook could wait, YouTube tutorials could wait, even those upsetting articles about the shutdown, abortion, and the Catholic schoolboys could wait. My habits haven’t been formed yet and my writing even got worse, as I have been neglecting the blog. The vision that I had for this year was slowly slipping away one distraction at a time. Instead of using my time to work on the things God called me too, I was letting the things that excited my emotions take me away from the purpose.

It wouldn’t feel so bad if I never learned this lesson before. Distraction has taken weeks, months, years away from my life. Missing out some of the goals I could have achieved puts life into perspective for me. I could actually have two degrees right now. I could have traveled to Ireland last summer. I could have had a research career right now. I’d still have a savings account. And I probably would not be a single mama (this is not a regret about baby, just honesty about the fact that distraction made me do things out of order).

One distraction at a time, I lost a lot of potential. I am sure there are wondrous things you could have too if you weren’t distracted. If only the temporary things of this world could not take our attention away from our pursuits. I’m not sure about you, but I do hope to leave a legacy. One that serves God’s plan. The vision requires a lot of work. Which means there will be a lot of room for distraction…

Losing those material things sucked, but what really hurt is missing out on the peace and direction I could have experienced if I focused on God. In those periods of distraction, even this past month, I was distant from God. God calls us to do His work, to grow in Him and to put our minds on things which are good. Distractions, uh? I don’t think He wants us to entertain them.

Ecclesiastes
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”

Proverbs 12:11
Those who work their land will have abundant food,
    but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

Life is a lot harder when we spend time doing things we know that we shouldn’t. Life is that much harder when we spend time doing things that God has not called us to do. Or even doing things that God has specifically told us not to do.

When I do my devotional early in the morning and my prayer is strong, I always have a productive day. When I am stuck in a loop of pointless activities or mindless browsing, I feel far from who I am. I feel far from what God wants from me. Because He doesn’t want any of us to sit in purposelessness. He gives us meaning, gifts, and guidance so we can enjoy a beautiful life filled with His glory.

Psalm 32:8
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

God wants to bring you close to His vision for you. He wants to remove distraction but we can only do that when we remember that He is the focus.

It does not matter how good your idea was or how noble your goals are if you are putting that energy to unfruitful distractions.

The more I said “no” to Him in the past, the farther I got from blessings. The more I said “no” to writing, the harder sitting down to write became.

When you put your focus on God, it’s easy to reject the things that don’t align with Him. Let’s be more mindful about the things we give our attention to. Is there a talent He gave you that you could be putting to work? Is there something distracting you from hearing Him?

1 Corinthians 7:35
“I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.”

Here’s to getting back on track. Getting back on God’s track. Doing what He’s asked of us. And turning down the opportunity to indulge our simple nature.

 

With love,
Mama X

3 thoughts on “Dealing with Distraction

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