I heard a lot of grumblings yesterday from some Focused Moms who were not too happy with my suggestion to bury their Kindle in the backyard. I was just kidding people! I think some of us might just have some serious attachment issues with our distractions! Of course, I’m not one to talk. If you told me to bury my iPad in the backyard I’d give you quite a glare, too!
In our Week One Focused Moms Challenge that kicked off yesterday, one of the steps I suggested was figuring out ways to make your distractions harder to access. Remember, this week we’re not really focusing on our time with our children (that will come in weeks two, three, and four). Instead, we’re looking more at the distractions in our environment and how we can better control them.
Consider for a moment that your distractions are like a credit card. One creative technique for keeping impulse credit card buys under control is to freeze your credit card in a cup of water. Then if you want to buy something, it’ll take you some time to thaw it out and ideally you’d spend that time deciding if the purchase is really worth it.
Of course, my favorite financial adviser Dave Ramsey would tell us just to cut up the stinking credit card! But for this challenge, we’re going to find a happy medium. Somewhere between freezing the credit card and cutting it to shreds lies a much more doable approach for gaining control over our distractions!
I think my grandmother actually had the right idea. She kept her impulse shopping money in her safety deposit box at the bank. If there was something she really wanted, she had to drive to the bank, go inside, have the teller escort her to her box, and then pull out her cash. She put up a few barriers up so that she had to really think about her purchase before making it.
So today we’re going to use some of Grandma’s common sense partnered with the advances of modern technology to help us put this idea into practice! Here are my top ten tips for keeping your distractions more out of reach, giving you a few seconds to think about our number one question for the week “Is what I’m about to do here helping me reach my goal of being a more focused parent?”
- When driving, keep your cell phone in your purse or glove compartment. Pulling out our phones to talk on while driving has become as routine as turning the key to start the engine. Keep it out of sight and harder to access while you’re in the car, and you’ll be less tempted to talk on it and more likely to talk to your precious passengers!
- Don’t save your passwords on your computer so that you can automatically log in to your distractions. Make yourself have to log into Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. by typing in your password each and every time you use it. When you’re done with a session, LOG OUT! Just the few seconds that it takes to log in might be enough to keep you from choosing computer time over kid time.
- If your distraction is an item, like your Kindle or your iPad, put it away after you’ve finished using it. Go attach it to the charger or something, just don’t leave it sitting around near you tempting you to come back to it.
- For most people, you don’t really need to keep your cell phone on your belt or in your pocket at all times. You can put it on the kitchen counter or leave it in your purse. When you keep it on your person then you’re much more likely to mindlessly get lost in it when you have a spare minute (for example, when you should be paying attention to the kids that you’re bathing or feeding).
- Don’t leave your television running all day long. If you’ve watched your program, then turn it off. You’ll be a lot less likely to get wrapped up in a show if you didn’t even know it was on in the first place!
- Try setting your cell phone to vibrate instead of letting it ring. Then you won’t be as likely to get distracted by phone calls or texts during quality time with your kids. You’ll be able instead to return your phone messages and texts when the kiddos go to bed.
- Turn off your computer. Not for good, just when you’re done using it! We used to have to shut down and restart our computers every time we used them. Now they just stay open and running 24 hours a day, making it really easy for us to sit down for just a minute and end up sucked in for at least an hour! Instead, turn them off when you’re not sitting at them so that you have to make a conscious decision to turn them back on.
- Keep a pad of paper by your computer. Whenever you catch yourself wanting to log on for just a minute, try keeping a daily list of what you wanted to do online instead. Then come back when you have time for a longer computer session (after you get the kids on the bus, before they wake up, or after they’re in bed) and check off your online to do list!
- Don’t use short cuts on your cell phone, desktop, laptop, iPad, etc. I know that seems to go against our better judgment! But I guarantee that if you make yourself go to the trouble of typing in the address of the site you want to go to or make yourself locate the document you want to work on in a folder instead of just pushing a shortcut button, then you’ll be a lot less likely to indulge mindlessly!
- And if none of those work for you then you might just want to seriously consider burying your Kindle in your backyard.
Don’t forget to keep working on our three steps for this week (Admit you have a problem, Plaster yourself with Mr. Yuk stickers, and Bury your Kindle in your backyard) and get ready to share your pictures, comments, and blog posts about your successes and struggles from Week One this Friday!