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19 Jan - Limiting Interruptions

Today I had a win. I have been fighting with a graphic design site for several weeks, and after dedicating a majority of my day to navigating and conquering how to use it, I think I've finally figured it out.

This may not be a massive thing to many people, but since I have previously struggled with the vast array of new technology that seems to emerge every five seconds, I am pretty happy. Plus, I know today's win will have a domino effect and help me succeed in several other's projects I have been feeling held up on.

My win today reminded me that sometimes you just need to take a day. A day with limited interruptions so you can focus; a day to assess the problem, work on solutions, dig your heels in, pray for wisdom, and determine to overcome the obstacles blocking you from achieving your goals.

Studies have shown that when we don't make time to concentrate and limit distractions, it takes an average time of between 8 minutes for more straightforward tasks to 25 minutes for more complex ones to refocus. Even two seconds is long enough to make people lose their focus and thought thread.

On a typical day, workers are interrupted about seven times an hour! That's 56 interruptions a day, and 80% of them are considered trivial. According to research interruptions cost the U.S. economy $588 billion a year.

Even though we can communicate and access the world at our fingertips all our modern technology and workplaces can easily cause us to be continually distracted. We are interrupted by phone calls, text messages, the constant need to scroll through social media and our overall accessibility.

Therefore, rather than allowing your day to be repeatedly interrupted choose to limit unnecessary distractions.

Start with the simple things like choosing to:

1. Move to a quiet area

Turn off notifications on your phone or turn your phone off altogether- Then schedule several times in your day to reply to calls and messages. You'll then be able to give your best to who and what you are doing uninterrupted.

2. Close the door to your office or room.

3. Tell those around you not to distract you for a specific period

4. Close programs or apps that aren't essential on your computer and phone. You may want to consider an app that blocks social media. Some of these distraction-busting programs also allow you to block online games, as well as apps and sites like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, text messages, and even emails.

5. Set a SMART goal. If your lack of focus results from feeling overwhelmed by a complex project, try breaking it down into smaller parts and plugging the smaller steps into the SMART formula: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed.

As we discipline ourselves to prioritise what really matters to us and what we are called to do and be, others will grow to value our time and will usually choose to limit their interruptions and need to talk or have to see us "this second" too.

The result will be that we'll have more quality time to spend with the people in our world with fewer interruptions, and the ability and space in our hearts and minds to be far more connected.

It's all about finding balance because let's face it, we are going to get interrupted sometimes. Especially if you have six children, or Jesus interrupts our day with one of His suddenlies. 😊But that doesn't mean we don't make time to prayerfully plan and strategize how we are going to fulfil all that God has called us to do and become.

Today I encourage you to check your schedule, the level of interruptions you are experiencing in your day and how you are feeling. Are most of your distractions just "noise" and things that sound urgent but aren't really important?

Set a specific time frame to get things done and, most importantly, that enables you to spend quality, uninterrupted time with the people in your world.

"Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you." (Proverbs 4:25 ESV)

"In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths" (Proverbs 3:6 ESV)

Prayer: Lord, would you please give me wisdom on how to schedule and prioritise my day. Help me to value what you value and guide me on how to allow time for both the tasks I need to do in my day as well as the people I have the opportunity to make a positive impact on. In Jesus name Amen.

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