Discipline, Distractions, and Instant Gratification

Discipline is tough, y’all.

When you’re an ENFP, the road to discipline sometimes begins to look too steep and just the thought of starting the journey is exhausting.

With so many distractions and possibilities competing for our attention, it is easy to stray from what is in front of us. The project that we start today can easily become yesterday’s news when a fresh idea arises.

Technology has opened up the box of instant gratification to such a level that now we don’t need to stay focused to obtain our basic needs. Out of groceries? Order them online and they’ll be delivered to your door. Want a date? Sign up for any plethora of dating sites and pick someone. Is it mindless entertainment that you’re seeking? Stream something on netflix, or hulu plus, or amazon or…

It is endless.

And, once you get on the wheel of distractions it is very difficult to get off. So very difficult.

Take this post for example, before I wrote a single word down I wasted time on facebook, answered at least 10 text messages that were not by any means urgent, I heard a song on pandora and took a ‘break’ to dance around my apartment. A break from what exactly? Apparently a break from thinking about how I should be working, certainly not from productivity.

And, sure, this example is inconsequential; my post was written, posted and no one lost an hour of sleep because I was a day late with the post.

But, how do we work with distractions when it counts? How do we stick to deadlines? How does focus become more than a mantra and actually a word that we embody? How do we see something through until the end?

There are a couple of efforts that have proved beneficial for me.

One of the most important ones is not starting something for which I don’t feel anything more than merely excitement. I get excited over many, many possibilities. Ideas race by quickly and almost every single one comes accompanied with a level of excitement. Excitement isn’t enough to sustain a new endeavor.

If the goal is to stay focused and see something through, then there needs to be more than excitement. Before engaging in something new, I ask myself what it would mean to me not to participate and what it would mean to get involved. If I can’t organically think of another reason to engage other than the excitement of starting something new, then I’ll pass on the idea. It needs to have a heavier meaning.

Recalling the reason why I started something to begin with helps me when distractions pop up.

Working with distractions instead of avoiding them has also helped me stay focused. I work with the windows open (I live on a busy street), music is always playing (loudly, because what’s the point of having it on otherwise?), and I keep my phone on and next to me.

I make myself aware of these distractions, come to terms with them, and make a decision not to let them interfere with my work. Yes, it’s difficult. As I mentioned, I still have trouble not stepping away from my laptop to go dancing around when a good song comes on. But, I have found that it is more difficult for me to avoid distractions when I’m not expecting them. If I suddenly hear a siren out on the street or my phone alerts me that I have unread text messages, then I am more likely to stop what I’m doing and give in to distractions.

The nearness of the distractions force me to accept that they are there and if I started working with them present, with the conversations outside my window, the alerts on my phone, etc., then I can finish working with them still present.

It may sound like torture, but it has really helped me with discipline. The acknowledgement of the distraction and ability to stay focused despite of it is a magical kind of empowerment.

Just as importantly, I play and allow room for instant gratification when it will be more helpful rather than hurtful. 

Sustaining discipline and seeing something through won’t happen if we don’t make time for play. There needs to be a release and recharge. After all, no one wants to be that person whose memories are lacking in the enjoyment arena.

How do you stay disciplined while maintaining a healthy life balance?

 

 

Featured blog image by Anthony Sordini

 

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10 thoughts on “Discipline, Distractions, and Instant Gratification”

  1. definitely know what you mean – technology can make us all feel a little scatterbrained. For me, I like to find a quiet place, usually by an open window or lots of filtered light, maybe even on a balcony or porch, to be the most focused. I feel more relaxed when I’m near nature and with only natural sounds. Music is okay if I’m writing or something, but I prefer quiet for reflection. Thanks for this post !

    stop by and chat 🙂 http://storybookapothecary.com

    1. ooo light – that’s a good one! It definitely makes me feel more alert. The problem with me and being outside is that I want to be active. I have a hard time sometimes sitting still indoors, but outdoors on a beautiful day, I am a lost cause. :-p

  2. Technology is something i’d love to hate. I find it very hard to stay focussed on one task, have tried a few things but nothing works so far. If i switch all devices off then i’m nervous thinking about what i’ve missed. I’m probably hopeless.. 😦

    1. Yes, I can relate to the feeling of thinking you’re missing out when you switch off devices! Then I start to think about how we used to survive without smart phones. I have a friend who does not have a smart phone and does not have internet at home, but our communication is excellent. He just makes it a point to communicate in person, but I’m getting off topic here, ha.

  3. I’m an INFJ and have the worst time trying to stay focused. I drive my husband crazy because I stop talking in mid-sentence because I got distracted be something else haha. Technology only makes it worse too. One thing that I’ve been trying to do when it comes to blogging is focus on one task at a time. Like right now I’m focusing on commenting on blogs then I’ll move to something else. It doesn’t always work, but it helps a little.

    1. I am the same way with random thoughts! I jump from one random thought to the other and then don’t understand when people give me confused/blank stare looks. I think with blogging it is extra difficult to multi-task, so your approach sounds promising. 🙂

  4. I think people who are distracted as adults and can let themselves indulge in it to a point have this part of childhood they still get to live out. It’s kinda fun and beautiful, and lighthearted. But I guess you can only have so much of it if you work in an office or another serious environment!

    1. I agree, Jess! I think that’s part of my challenge. I love to play, and play, and play. It’s difficult for me to sit still, which is weird because I used to have so much discipline when I was attending grad school. Balance!

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