As 2018 wrapped up I found myself, like many people, wondering where the time goes.
Back in October it was, “wow, can you believe it’s Halloween already?” In no time that gave way to amazement that Thanksgiving dinner was on the table, and then wonder that Santa would be here any day.
In an instant the ball had dropped, the collards and black-eyed peas were gone, and now here we are on the eighth day of the month.
2.2% of 2019 has already vanished.
It will be Christmas again very soon.
Where does the time go?
I’ve come to realize that I lose massive amounts of time to distractions.
I have Lily and Sam, my biological kids, every Wednesday and every other weekend. It’s not nearly as much as I would like to have them so every bit of time is important. Because of the distance to their school we spend a lot of time driving and, although I’d rather not be stuck in the car, it does give us blocks of uninterrupted time to talk.
Uninterrupted, of course, if I’m not glued to my phone. But not long ago I realized that I had become just that - glued to my phone. Checking for new message or emails at every stoplight. Scrolling through Facebook as they ate pastries at Amelie’s. Seeing how many likes my latest Instagram phone had racked up while we were in the carpool line.
I was, quite literally, missing time with my kids.
So last month I deleted most of the apps from my phone. Facebook, twitter, email - all the apps that were causing me to compulsively check my phone. Since then my screen time has been on a steady decline.
It’s nice, but it’s not enough.
As I’m writing this I have a burning desire to check my email. There’s a tab open in my browser where I can see that a couple of new messages have arrived. Down at the bottom of my screen I can see in Flume, the app that I installed on my Macbook for Instagram, that I have new notifications. And until a couple of minutes ago when I muted my computer I could hear Facebook notifications calling me.
Once I check one of them it’s all over. My productivity for the rest of the day will be on a decline.
It’s so easy to bounce from one email to the next because they come in constantly. Then I get them caught up and think, “well, I better check to see if I have any messages” which, of course, I do. So I respond to those and when I click back over to my browser I’ve got more emails.
It starts this “cycle of checking alerts” and, meanwhile, the projects sitting on my desk aren’t getting done.
It’s hard to get anything done when you allow yourself to be constantly interrupted.
As a long term objective I want to become “undistracted.”
I have to because I think it’s the distractions that cause the time to go by so quickly. Although much of the technology we have today can be useful, if we don’t use it correctly and maintain control of it then it can begin to control us.
It becomes a distraction from the project at work.
A distraction from the game I’m playing with my kids.
A distraction from the conversations I’m having with my friends.
A distraction from the time I’m spending with my wife.
My first step was deleting the apps from phone. I’m satisfied with that - I’ve proved to myself that I don’t need them.
My next step is going to be scheduling times to check my emails rather than trying to keep up with them all day long.
From there, who knows, but I’ll tell you about it as I go along.
How do your prevent yourself from being overly distracted by technology?