Between email, text messaging services, social media accounts and other inboxes, we are flooded with new messages around the clock. The never-ending “pings” of new messages can be an intrusion into every aspect of our life — sleep, work, rest, quality time with loved ones, quiet time — if we let it.
For many years, I lived in reaction to the ping. Eventually that reactivity turned into resentment against others who had the audacity to send messages at times that worked for them (Imagine!). The truth is that the resentment I really harbored was against myself — for not having firm enough boundaries and for allowing myself to be distracted.
Everything changed when I accepted three fundamental truths:
- People send messages when it’s convenient for them.
- I cannot control other people or dictate when they send messages to me.
- It’s my responsibility to ensure that the incoming messages don’t disrupt me.
This was the moment when I reclaimed my power, stopped living a life in reaction, and started creating space for my best work. It was the moment when I became response-able — able to respond, not react, to life.
A Revolutionary Approach
When I first made these changes they proved revolutionary for my productivity, my mindset, and my emotional state. They have helped me solve one of the biggest problems we face in our hyperconnected world:
How do we stay productive, focused, and sane in an environment increasingly designed to steal the most precious commodities we have: our focus, attention, and energy.
Now I decide when to check email or text messages and when to respond.
Although I have moments where I regress — because old habits die hard, and I’m a human being, not a robot — I generally do not live in reaction to the ping.
How I Minimize Distractions
I do 95% of my work from my iPhone and iPad, so turning them off completely isn’t a viable option for me to tame distractions.
Instead, I adjust the settings on my devices, create workflows that avoid the most common distraction pitfalls, and follow a set of rules and rituals to keep myself from being disturbed or distracted by the neverending inflow of messages.
I have a list of hacks, tips, workflows, and strategies that I use, which I share in workshops and with my private clients. And I am happy to share them with you.
But first, here’s what I want you to know:
The Hacks Don’t Work … on Their Own
When I first “hacked” my phone to tame the pings, I checked my phone more, not less. Many people I’ve worked with are surprised to find that they do the same.
The hacks and workflows, the tips and tricks, are not the full solution to this problem. These are the external pieces to solve this puzzle — the easy parts.
The ping that distracts us isn’t coming from the phone. Studies show that a silent phone in the room is still a distraction.
How is this possible?
The trigger is internal.
The real work in this process — the hard work — is the inner work: uncovering and navigating the fears, beliefs, and judgments, that tell you why you can’t set boundaries and that trigger you to react to messages.
Unless you engage in this inner work, the hacks won’t work. You will continue to be a slave to your phone and to the other external distractions.
Taming distractions starts within.
Want more of this?
The Ritual Revolution is my movement to help you get out of reaction and create a life of intention. The signature program is a comprehensive deep dive to help you “hack your habits, with heart.” We cover both the external pieces of my approach to breaking sabotaging habits, creating intentional habits, and the inner work necessary for it to stick. I invite you to register your interest for the next installment, coming in early fall 2019.