“We are no different than our kids with those enticing and attention-grabbing apps...we might be surprised how much Candy Crush steals our time each week.”

We have been talking about distraction and focus related to our kids, but I thought we could take some time to focus on distraction and attention for us as adults. We are no different than our kids in that the enticing and attention-grabbing apps, websites, and devices impact our lives and daily schedule just as much as it does them. We might not be playing a video game on our Xbox for two hours, but we might be surprised how much Candy Crush steals our time each week.
 
For us as adults, there are three main areas where the media and technological world can consume our attention and control our day. The three are emails, smartphones, and social media. Over the next few weeks we will look at each one with tips on how to gain back control in these areas. Let’s start with some tips about email:

A Set Time
Establish a habit for yourself by setting a specific amount of time to work on emails each day and then close out the program. This can still be a significant amount of time if your job requires it, but when the time is done, turn it off for the day. You can set a time in the morning and evening if that works better for you. The key is not letting the email control your day and closing it when the allotted time is over. 

Say No to Notifications
Turn off the automatic notifications that disrupt you constantly throughout the day to tell you that an email has arrived. The noise and visuals grab your attention and can pull your focus away from the important work you were just doing. These notifications can be a constant distraction in your life and create a chaotic experience at work and at home.

Unsubscribe
We all get emails that are sent to us by companies, organizations, websites, etc. These promotional emails can be interesting and informative but are arriving every day and filling up our inbox with emails that require our attention. By “law,” at the bottom of those emails they are required to put an unsubscribe link or button. Start unsubscribing from these emails. 

Two Can Be Better Than One
This might seem counter intuitive but it can actually help us to set up two email accounts instead of having just one. One of the accounts is specifically related to your vocation and career and the other is for friends and family. This will not lessen the number of emails but helps you keep them organized and separate from each other and creates more order in your email world. 

Two Minute Rule
When an email arrives in your inbox, if you can respond to it in under two minutes, do so immediately and don’t put it off. If it takes more than that, you can decide to deal with it at a later time. This two minute rule keeps your inbox from filling up with hundreds of little tasks/responses that visually sap your energy and create an inbox that is unwieldy and full of unanswered emails.

Written by Karl Steinkamp

Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Head of School since 2006.
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