By Kathy Kuhl
Whatever the cause of your distraction, these tips can help you stay on target!
Be Smart about Smartphones
- Don’t keep your smartphone next to your bed at night. If you’re worried about missing an important message from kids or other family, turn up the volume.
- Some smartphones have a “Do not disturb” setting, which you can use to help yourself avoid distraction. I set mine to automatically switch to “do not disturb” every evening. I turned on the override feature so that if one of my family calls twice, the phone will ring. My family knows this.
- If you don’t have a smart phone, you might want to keep it that way. If you do have one, what apps can you remove? What notifications can you turn off? Keep it lean. I took Facebook and games off my phone to limit distraction.
- If you want to be more clearheaded, don’t look at your phone, your texts, your emails—or any electronics more sophisticated than your coffeemaker or electric kettle—until you’ve finished your morning personal routine. For me that includes bible reading, prayer, and meditation. Maybe yours includes a walk, stretches, poetry, or journaling. Any of these are much easier and more pleasant if your mind isn’t stuffed full of thoughts from other people’s agendas. I’m only averaging 75% success on this since I started two weeks ago, but I can feel the benefit.
- If your morning routine includes small people who invade your sleep, your room, and your heart, don’t be discouraged! A morning routine can still help. Your devotional reading might be only two minutes, or you might need to read it aloud to your toddler. The keys are to keep your morning plan simple, roll with interruptions, and not to despair when it is disrupted.
- Trying to build a new habit? Charles DuHigg, author of The Power of Habit, has these suggestions:
- Don’t try to change many things at once.
- Link new habits to existing ones. If you want to remember to floss and you already remember to brush your teeth, try putting the floss on top of the toothpaste tube.
- Start small; for example, just floss a couple teeth each day the first week you start flossing.
- Tell yourself, “Good job!” every time you remember to do the new habit.
- Think about the goal, how good it will feel, how satisfying it is to have done the task even two days in a row, or whatever you’ve currently achieved.
- I have found it helpful to use a habit tracker, an idea I borrowed from bullet journaling. Mine is fairly plain, but I list several new habits I’m working on and get to fill in a square for each day I’ve done each new task. I’ve fallen behind lately, but I’m confident I’ll return to it after I get home. Here’s a fancy version:
Tools for Distracted Parents
- The Tile helps me find lost keys. It is easy to use. Tiles are little Bluetooth trackers, about the size of a postage stamp, that communicate with an app on your phone. Install the app on your phone, put a Tile on your key ring, in your wallet, or whatever you don’t want to lose. With a click on your phone your Tile will start playing a melody, if it’s in range. It has probably saved me every month since I started using it.
- Nozbe is an app for keeping to-do lists. It’s great. It keeps my to-do lists organized and with me on all my devices. It lets me add detailed notes, tags, and repeating items and reminders. I even have templates of lists for recurring projects, like what to do before we travel, or before Christmas. That saves me the effort of constructing a new list.
- The Ironman watch has three alarms, two timers, and is easy to set up with one-time or recurring timers and alarms. It’s on my wrist every day.
- Read my review of The Power of Habit by Charles DuHigg
- Tiles make it easy to find lost keys, bag, backpack—whatever you don’t want to lose.
- Nozbe to-do list app
- The Ironman watch has three alarms, two timers, and is easy to set up.
- Carol Barnier’s book, If I’m Diapering a Watermelon , Where’d I Leave the Baby? is a fun and practical read.
What are your favorite tips for distractible parents?