• Patrick McAndrew

5 Ways To Defend Our Time

Intercepting the Flow State

You are in the zone. You are being super productive and working on a specific project that fulfills you. Perhaps you are working on your business. Or perhaps you are painting a picture, or maybe learning a new song on an instrument. You mapped out an hour or two to devote to your craft. And, just when you are about to enter that flow state and really get into the rhythm of it all, your phone rings. Or you receive an URGENT text message. Or perhaps you receive an email that requires your immediate attention. Suddenly, you feel compelled to obey this external request, otherwise you will feel incredibly guilty. The content creation of your business stops, the paint brush is set on the easel, and the guitar goes on its stand and ceases to be played the rest of the day. This new task does not take an hour or two, but more, and then you wonder why you haven’t made progress in your goals and dreams.

Distractions Are The Plague

Distractions are like the plague today. Because we are so connected digitally, anyone can reach us at anytime through a wide variety of ways. Actually, as I write this, my phone is ringing now! But…I will not answer….AH! It started to ring again….Okay, it stopped. Okay…I think we are good. Moving on!

We can be reached through a phone call on our phones, but this is less common. We can receive a text message. We can receive a Facebook message. We can receive a comment on social media. We can receive a direct message. And, perhaps the king of the crop, we can receive an email. These things aren’t necessarily bad. Though they do steal our attention and take us out of a given moment, so long as we aren’t being required to fulfill a certain desire, not too much damage is done (so long as we don’t keep being interrupted so much so that we can’t focus at all on the task at hand).

This becomes a problem, however, when an individual or group of people expects you to drop everything you are doing and work on their agenda. This is very common in the work world, where we may be working on something important, only to be told that something else is more important. While there is usual little escape from this in the grind of our jobs, we do have control over it in our personal lives.

How We Should Value Time

We must dictate how we value our time. If we make ourselves easily accessible to anyone at any time, we are telling the universe that we don’t value our time, and, therefore, ourselves very much. How can we possibly value ourselves if we are willing to throw away our time to others’ agendas all willy nilly?

Time is a fickle friend. It is always passing us by, and we are given less and less of it with every passing second. Time is our scarcest resource, but because it escapes us in such bite-sized moments we barely even realize all the time that passes before our eyes. Time, while highly valuable, is easy to slip between our fingers and splatter on the floor in front of us, with no way to pick it up and still use it. It is gone.

Because of this, we cannot let someone else dictate how we spend our time. We must defend our time. If we don’t, we may find ourselves feeling unfulfilled and hollow inside. So, how can we defend our time? Let’s dive into five ways you can go about this:

5 Ways To Defend Our Time

1. When you are working on something important, eliminate all distractions:You can’t possibly get anything done if you are surrendering yourself to the external world. Eliminate all possible distractions in order to focus on the task at hand. You will find that you can be much more productive this way.

2. Set aside specific times each day to check your email: This is one that I’m still working on. If you leave your email open all day, you invite reactive behavior throughout your day. Unless you work a full- time job and it requires that you answer your email promptly, opt to check your email at given times 2-3 times a day. This will ensure that you will not be tempted while working on a task.

3. Work on one thing at a time: If you are jumping from task to task, your mind will become completely scattered and soon you won’t know what you are doing. In order to be your most effective, you must focus on one thing at a time. If your worried that you won’t get it all done if you just focus on one thing at a time, do it anyway. You will find that you can get things done much quicker if you put all your eggs in one basket.

4. Turn off notifications on your phone: Notifications have gotten completely out of hand. No more is a notification just “this person commented on your photo” or “this person wants to be your friend” Now it’s all, “Your friend ordered the McNuggets at McDonald’s yesterday morning. Just thought you should know!” Notifications have become a way to get you to sign into the app or website instead of a valuable notifier. In turning off notifications, you turn off useless digital clutter in your life.

5. To go off of number 2, do not necessarily respond to a message or email right away: If you are in the middle of something, and you stop to reply to an email, it completely destroys your thought pattern. It takes about 20 minutes to fully get back in the zone. Also, if you respond right away, it tells your network and your world that you are easily accessible and they will take advantage of that. Then, if you don’t respond, they will get angry. Instead, dictate for yourself when you will respond and the world will follow suit. You are in charge of how and when you respond.

I hope this provides you with a little more context for defending your time. I know I’m guilty of falling into all of these traps, but even to just have the awareness of time being valuable is helpful. We only get one life and we decide how we live it. Don’t let someone else dictate how you spend your time and, therefore, how you spend your life, as time added up is your life.

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