Battling Distractedness

We live in a time where it is easy to be distracted. 

Technology beckons, with another gadget to purchase, another blog to read, another show to follow... the problem in all of this (for me) comes in that my real life requires my attention. Increasingly so.

Precious children, with bright eyes, come with stories that they want heard,
pictures carefully colored (and sometimes not-so-carefully colored) that they want admired,
questions that need answers,
requests for a book to be read,
hurt fingers needing a kiss and sometimes some neosporin & a bandaid;
they have needs for snuggles on the couch,
math lessons that require an explanation,
and wrestling on the floor.

And I have a wonderful husband who I want to spend time with, cook well for, and be able to exchange ideas with.

The temptation becomes to only enter into these significant things halfway because of time spent online, or checking e-mail, or mentally mulling what I've just read on a blog or online news agency. Even right now, I'm watching "North and South" (Elizabeth Gaskell's; bliss!), with the kids, while typing out these thoughts.

About 10 days ago, my husband bought me a Kindle, and I love it! One of the things I love about it is (as a piece of technology) that when I sit down to use it, I don't get distracted by additional features (a.k.a windows/apps). I can't check e-mail on it; I can't get distracted by blogs on my rss feedreader; Facebook can't draw me in. When I intend to read, I don't get unintentionally, thoughtlessly drawn into other things.

Today I've been wondering, what would happen if I only concentrated on one thing at a time? 

 What would change about my life if I only focused on one thing at a time, rather than falling into the habit of regularly spinning 17 mental "plates"?

Thoughts? Comments? Experience? Tips you want to share? I welcome your input on this topic that affects so many.


Sanders said...

Such a good point about the Kindle! I struggle with this too - it's one of the reasons I just turn off facebook when we're in country - I just don't have enough self-control. I just read this homeschooling advice: and #s 6 & 7 are two things I really need to change (staying off the phone and computer while schooling). It seems like my older two need more attention now that we have newborn. Funny how that works! :O)

Owlhaven said...

I've been very convicted of this lately. I've resolved this year to turn off my computer between 9AM and 2 PM on school days. I will probably still be knitting while listening to reading, and cooking while helping kids with math-- I have always been a multi-tasker, and honestly, I've found that doing SOMETHING with my hands makes me much more patient when listening to young readers. But those types of things are much less distracting than internet. I am just stepping back during those busy hours, focusing more on my people.

Thanks for writing about this!

Mary, mom to 10 (only homeschooling 7 this year)

Missus Wookie said...

I use my timers for this - telling myself I'm going to concentrate on something for fifteen minutes makes it easier to do so. I also save reading for times I know I'll be traveling by public transport or waiting. In fact I've realized I'm doing less waiting for kids now they are bigger and I'm not homeschooling and have got less reading done!

Jessica said...

My husband has taught me a lot about this simply because of how differently he's wired. He CANNOT multitask while I rarely operate without multitasking as a mom! But I kept finding I wasn't getting major projects done (like deep cleaning a room out) cause I would start and then get too distracted with a million little things. I found he could complete a major task in one less time and much better but he ONLY focused on that one thing until it was done. It was such a new idea to me but it really works. Sometimes we really do even as mothers have to ignore lots of good things in order to get done the most important things. The unseen things ARE more important than the seen. I love Ann Voskamp's blog A Holy Experience and how she talks about this a lot. Nurturing hearts will last eternity the pile of dishes they always get done eventually. I've asked God to take away my idolatry for the house to be neat and give me a hunger to love my family in unseen ways...heart ways. It's been life changing! :)

I love your posts thanks for sharing!

Kate (a.k.a. Domestikate) said...

I couldn't agree more. Last August I took what I thought was a 3 week break from Facebook. It has been a year now and I still have the site locked out of my computer (my husband can type in a password for me to go on if "needed"). If I do happen to go on I feel myself getting sucked in to everyone else's life, religion, political views, hurts, philosophies, opinions, garbage, etc... It is all too much for me to take especially when I have my own family to take care of. I have come to the conclusion that it is okay for me not to be involved in the lives of every person I have ever known. I trust that God will place those in my life that I need to minister to. Thank you for pointing out how precious those daily moments are with our kids.

Also, I have been loving my Kindle as well. I just came across another site with a load of free Kindle books. They even have G.A. Henty books that I was having a hard time getting at my library. So if you haven't visited "Project Gutenberg" it's worth a look.

Conn Family said...

We got a kindle last year for our anniversary. It was right before the ipad came out and people asked why we didn't just get the ipad. Well, not only was it was less expensive, but we purchased this to read! not browse the internet, watch videos, or play games (though that would come in handy on long car trips!) Plus, I love that the classics are all free- I'm currently reading Little Dorrit.

I will often check my email and/or facebook before the kids get up (if I have time) that way I'm not thinking about it all morning and I can get that out of the way and have the rest of the day with my little ones! But I really do suffer from being distracted.

Michelle said...

You make me smile, Jess.

If you only focused on one thing at a time you'd be a man. =)

(And, just in case you wanted to know, you can have blogs imported into your Kindle, I do believe. Not sure on that, but I think it's possible. You could read the blogs without being able to click on links, comment, or surf, though.)

Kelly said...

Usually my laptop resides on my kitchen counter, but lately I have been considering zipping it in a case and leaving it in my bedroom until a certain hour of the evening, for these exact reasons. I'd still have my iPod for email, but I hate navigating the internet on it so there's much less temptation there. I KNOW I'd be much more diligent with the kids' schooling, with making a decent dinner, with keeping the house tidy-ish, if I didn't have the glowing screen beckoning me constantly. I lose all track of time when I'm reading on the internet.

Jess said...

LOL, Michelle-- it's true; Doug & I talk about his one-trackedness often. Like Monk would say, being able to do many things at once is "a blessing, and a curse." :)

sandra said...

Lately, I've been thinking alot about my childhood and life before the internet, household computers and even DVD's. I try not to do screen time when the kids are awake, but it's hard. Hubs was doing his QT on the kindle and I asked him to use paper Bible so the kids could see what he was reading.

Rightthinker said...

I'm a longer-married mama of 6 (so far) blessings, from ages 14 1/2 to 12 months. The most important way for me to focus on what matters, is to NOT be overly involved with "activities", thereby really fulfilling "being a stay at home mother/homeschooler". Many mothers are "stay at home", but spend so much time in the car, at sporting events, co-ops, Awana, 4-H, on and on..that they are rarely home!

I am the gatekeeper of this home, and therefore take great pride in my God-given role. If we truly embrace it then we will find that we would rather spend time baking bread, teaching children, cooking, cleaning, playing with children, than doing anything else!

We are not busy fact, when people will hear that we have 6, they often reply, "Wow, we have two and we are SO must be REALLY busy!" They don't mean busy with things for the kingdom, though! They mean soccer, groups, activities, etc. We simply don't do much of those things.

I also avoid all "cool" technology. It's all going to burn! There is nothing inherently wrong with it, other than the fact that it has become the idol for many..the latest "apps", the latest phone, etc. I couldn't care less. I'm not on Facebook, because I believe that anyone that wishes to have a relationship with me, will take the time to do so for real, and likewise for me with them.

Facebook has become a replacement for relationships, and so many mothers are busy with their online communities that they've forgotten their real life at-home ministry.

I own a Tracphone that I carry for emergencies, and don't talk on it for pleasure. We have a netbook for our computer needs, and I am disciplined to use it in my free time, rather than when I "want" to. My children are growing up so quickly, they need me here and the moment..I don't want to miss a single opportunity!

God Bless!

Ann said...

Thanks for a great post and the comments add nicely. I just recently read the book "Weird" and the author discusses this exact topic. I've read your blog for several years and think of you as one who puts her priorities first. Kudos.