Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Distractions and Awareness.

So... I just started reading a new book.  It's a guide to living a less distracted life.  Not only in an IPhone, computer, device way but in a throw-away-the-To-Do-list way.  I'm only one chapter in, but find myself thinking about it throughout my days.  Her words make so much sense and in hopes to not simply read the book and add it to my shelf I want to take my time with it.  Slowly read each chapter, let it simmer and try to really take to heart the words.  I know by writing about it in this space I will be more likely to stick with it. I'm not sure why that is, but I do believe I hold myself more accountable if I write these things down.  

First up was most obviously putting down the devices.  We live in such a different world now.  A world where taking a phone call during dinner is acceptable.  A world where we can go out and see a couple who appear to be on a date but aren't even talking to one another because they are on Facebook.  A world where kids don't even know how to actually call a friends house because they'll just send a text.  I remember having full conversations with friends parents on the phone before I actually got to talk to my friend. Learning to communicate with actual words not having to Google what YOLO means.  As many do, I struggle to find the balance between embracing this technology and resisting it.  Trying to figure out what is the "normal" amount of times in a day to check your Facebook, email or Instagram.  Trying to know if the example I am currently setting with my phone use to my 6 and 8 year old will be acceptable to me when they do the same as a 14 year old.  If I'll remember the time I tell them to give me a minute while I send a text when they are asking me a question and if I'll give them the same patience when the situation is reversed in a few years.  Will I get angry if they don't take their eyes away from the screen to really talk to me like I sometimes do to them?  These are things I think about and were brought more to my attention as I read this first chapter.  It said to take time each day to disconnect.  Even if it is for only ten minutes.  I believe I can do better than that.  I've set real boundaries for picking up my phone to check the social networks or browse PInterest.  It's interesting how much you realize you reach for your phone out of boredom to fill a few minutes and then get sucked in.  When I put a limit on myself to only check it once in the morning and once at the end of the day I have found those extra ten minutes here and there get filled with these sweet faces...

Or instead of half way listening to Matt with one eye on my phone, I stop and get a full conversation.  Instead of glancing at my phone while sitting at a red light (a bad habit I am strongly trying to quit, especially as I set an example for my future drivers in the backseat) I look around outside and observe the world going on.  One point I really liked in the book was about things going on around you, like a beautiful sunset or the way the clouds are moving around the mountains, are going to happen whether you take the time to see them or not...but why would you want to miss something like that?  Just to see a friends status update?  It's about being aware of what you are missing while you are mindlessly getting sucked into things that don't matter.  It's being aware how many small things you miss out on.  Being aware of how often we get distracted by the devices.  Those social networks are designed to keep you checking back over and over...when I think about it that way, it irritates me that I let myself be sucked into it.  By being more aware of my habits these past couple of days I have been able to change how I think about it.  And, not only because I get to be more present with Matt and the girls but because I also have better things to do than stare at a screen.  (I say as I type staring at a screen...but writing is like my therapy so sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do).

Other thought...Going a few days without a To-Do list.  Now, I don't write down a daily list, but I certainly make one in my head every single day.  As a creature of habit, there are certain things I like to get done each day and when I do make the occasional list I take a weird amount of pleasure in crossing things off.  I feel accomplished and exhausted at the end of a day when I get everything done.  But, then I wonder if the day could have been better spent doing something other than crossing the mundane chores off a list I created.  The suggestion in the book was to not make any To-Do lists for a few days and then notice what happens.  See if the world crumbles because you didn't get everything done.  For those days, notice what other things you may choose to do to fill your time.  Let me tell you...I could easily throw all my devices in the trash and not have a care in the world, but trying to let go of doing all the things I think need to get done in a week is so, so hard for me.  It's hard because you have to figure out what can be let go. In the day to day there are a lot of things that do have to get done.  I have to feed my family and to do that I have to go to the grocery store and then make the food.  If you make the food, then you do have to do dishes.  And if you have kids, these meals will result in dirty clothes, so you do in fact have to do laundry.  And clean clothes don't magically get back into closets, so you have to put them away.  You see, it's a vicious cycle that continues on top of work and school responsibilities so I find it tricky to figure out what I can and can't let go of.  In hopes of trying to figure it out I have tried to push my mental To-Do list out of my mind this week. If something needs to get done, I'll do it, but not in a clean on Monday, store on Tuesday, laundry on Wednesday way.  I'm doing okay with it.  It was easier over the weekend because I truly value that as family time.  If things get messy and beds don't get made, I don't care.  It's harder as we go into the week and I've become so accustomed to doing certain things.  I'm working on it and it's funny how instantly you see rewards.  Tuesdays for example are generally a day I don't have to go to work so try really hard to get all the housework done.  That morning the girls were ready for school early and we had twenty minutes before we had to leave.  Normally I would have taken that twenty minutes to get a head start on vacuuming or something.  Instead I put that mental To-Do list away and got lost in the girls Polly Pocket world.  Later in the day instead of catching up on that missed cleaning, I went to my sisters and spent a lovely afternoon catching up with her.  This one will continue to be a struggle for me, but one I know is important I continue to work on.  And to be okay with whatever balance I find because sometimes a girl has just got to make a list so she can cross things off.  

Speaking of said weekend, the weather was wonderfully spring-like yet we did many winter activities.  Things like ice skating in the sunshine...

Coats did not stay on for long and instead of hot cocoa after we had ice cream.  How crazy is that?  I am not complaining.  We also did some sledding...

We had to get up in the mountains to find enough snow for sledding.  It wasn't perfect, fluffy sledding snow, but at least there was snow.  And the views weren't bad either.  

The question at the end of that first chapter of the book was what you consider a valuable use of your time and does your daily agenda reflect this.  When I really focused on being more aware of distractions in my days I was able to realize how many things I do that are not valuable.  I know changes cannot be made overnight, but I hope to continue to let the distractions take a back seat to the more important things to me.  

I promise I will not give a play by play of each chapter as I read this book.  Only the things I am feeling strongly about.  Sorting my thoughts on it here so I can figure out the best way to move forward with it.  I think it is valuable.  

Happy snowy day to ya.  The spring weather sure was nice while it lasted.  

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