The New York Post says that Americans check their phone 80 times a day or every 12 minutes*.
I bet you have your phone close by right now and might be tempted to check it before you can read to the end of this article. Instead of letting it distract you, why not use it to help you be more productive and avoid feeling overwhelmed with your “to do” lists?
It was on one of those days when my to do list was longer than the hours in day that I started using this method. Because I was overwhelmed, I took a minute to pray and then these thoughts came to mind.
What is your son doing right now?
He’s in class at school.
What subject is he focusing on?
What does he do when the bell rings?
He moves on to the next class.
Why can’t you use the same system?
Jesus said he would give us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, and I do think he came to me that day in my thoughts. Over the years, I’ve learned to listen when I think he is whispering to me. (Read Capturing Sparks for more about this).
So I pulled out my mobile phone and set the timer function for 50 minutes. When the timer was up, I took a short 5 minute break. Then I set the timer again and focused on another task. I treated my day like I was in school going from subject to subject.
If I saw dirty dishes, windows, or laundry that needed my attention, I walked right by them. Now I pictured myself in the hallway walking to my next class. I didn’t let them speak to me to take care of them now. I learned to focus on one thing and not see all the things that needed to be done and feel overwhelmed.
This simple tip has assisted me with both my dreams and daily chores. I have become more productive without feeling like I am drowning in the details. For example, I set a timer for how long I will allow myself to check emails, write, clean house, and walk the dogs. When you give them a time limit, you give yourself freedom to move on and still feel like you’ve made progress.
How about setting a time to read 30 minutes a day, or exercise, or work on a hobby you love. If you don’t feel like you have 30 minutes to spare, start by setting 15 minutes or even five minutes. Do something you have always wanted to do or have been procrastinating on. Clean a closet, learn a new language, or start writing a book. Begin with a small baby step. I promise it will work and you will feel encouraged as these small movements add up to progress.
What I’ve discovered using this method:
- It helps me get started. I procrastinate on the jobs I hate. But once I get moving, I can keep going or my alarm gives me the freedom to quit and tackle it again later. Knowing the job will end helps me start and get through it.
- I can focus on one thing at a time. Setting my phone timer helps me be present with one task only and not be distracted.
- It helps me not check my phone because I know a break is coming and I can return texts, or phone calls then. I am in control of the minutes and hours of my day, not interruptions.
- It gave me a set time for each task. Each project would get my undivided attention when it was their time. I could write down what I needed to do, but not let it take up space in my brain attic.
With instant everything these days, sometimes it helps to remember that it is okay to not let your phone be the boss of your time, but only focus on one thing. Setting aside blocks of time for my “subjects” or tasks has helped me a lot with overwhelm and become more productive. I don’t feel guilty about fun times like 30 minutes to walk the dog (P.E.) , or to practice drawing (Art Class). It helps me order my days, focus on one thing at a time, and gives everything it’s place and time. I can get started on a project I’ve been dreading and know I will finally get it done, even if I can only finish it taking baby steps.
Use the amazing tool you have at your fingertips to help you focus and get more done instead of letting it distract you every 12 minutes. Small changes over time add up.
Did you make it through this post without checking your phone? I hope so, because this was definitely not a 12 minute read. Hope this tip helps you accomplish more and conquer your overwhelm. *Link to NY Post Article here.