How to Stay Focused in a World of Distractions

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another." -William James

"Overwhelmed."  That's the word I hear most often when working with clients these days. 

People feel overwhelmed with all they have to do; with the many things that pull them this way and that; with the needs of co-workers, bosses, family members, and friends; with the bombardment of information filling their in-boxes and the unending sounds of cell phones -- all creating an artificial urgency to life that leaves one breathless, anxious, exhausted, and often lonely -- the kind of loneliness that comes from being disconnected from oneself and others in any meaningful way.

We are continuously looking for ways to get more done in less time. I'm beginning to wonder if that is the best use of this life. What really needs to get done, after all?

One of my favorite quotes by Annie Dillard is, "How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives."

I wonder what would happen if instead of a to-do list, I simply asked myself each morning, "How do I intend to spend this one priceless day?"

Or maybe, as poet Mary Oliver offers, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Could I, consciously and in good conscience, answer that question with:
  • checking email
  • Twittering
  • updating my Facebook status
  • Linking In
  • watching TV
  • surfing the web
  • shopping for stuff I don't need
  • being fearful of whatever might or might not happen
  • stressing out
  • numbing out
  • distracting myself from the fact that I'm not really LIVING this one life I've been given
WOW. . .

I don't know about you, but I think today I will go outside, feel the sun on my back, take in the beauty of this gorgeous day and thank God for another chance to become more aware of this wonderful gift of life and how to "spend" it. May this day mark the beginning of wiser spending.

For some great tips on simplifying and staying focused, check out
Leo Babauta's free e-book, focus: a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction.

You might also enjoy reading my other blog posts on this topic. I'd love to hear you comments. "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

"The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep." --Rumi