Get off the hamster wheel

Get off the hamster wheel

Are you as distracted as me?

Constant notifications.

Someone you follow on Twitter has posted something.

Someone in a Facebook Group you manage asked a question.

Someone on Instagram has liked your photo, responded to your story, or posted a life update.

Someone on SnapChat has asked you a question.

Someone LinkedIn has messaged you about that open job position.

Someone posted six consecutive memes on Slack.

Some random person has sent you a message on Facebook Messenger.

None of these people have your email address.

None of these people have your phone number to send you a text.

Depending on your connectivity - you could be getting multiple notifications on your Apple Watch, iPhone, and within your email too.

Then some people have your cell phone number - the group texts upon group texts. It is no wonder why we're distracted!

You have built a platform in what Michael Hyatt has called "The Distracted Economy."

Congratulations, you’re distracted.

It is okay.

We can get through this together.

Wait, don't head over to Instagram just yet.

We're in this distracted economy together, frenzied and running faster and faster on that hamster wheel.

We've got to stop, look around, and take a break to assess what is going on.

Our Leader Development Team at Precept has been pressing into this over the past few months. Primarily, we've considered the difference between doing all of the things and doing the right things. We've all realized that each of us was on this hamster wheel of the distracted economy. We've been thinking through the culture of our team, how we engage with each other, and how we collaborate with other groups and our Precept Bible Study Leaders. One of the things that has helped us is discussing Hyatt's Free To Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less.

"It's almost impossible to accomplish anything significant when you're racing through an endless litany of tasks and emergencies. And yet, this is how many of us spend our days, our weeks, months, years, sometimes our entire lives." - Michael Hyatt

Yep, I was on the hamster wheel. I was running faster. I was doing things, but was I doing the right things, the most optimal things?

The cure for distraction is deep focus.

Where do you start? If you’re distracted and running from one fire to the next, how do you get to a place where you can slow down enough to even think about focus? As if I needed more convincing, I also read Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport. Cal is a millennial anomaly. He does not use social media. I'm not talking about the millennial that posts on social media that they're taking a break from social media, only to return two days later. Cal has never had any form of social media.

"What is digital minimalism?" you may ask. Cal defines it as, "A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else."

Check out some of these quotes from the book:

"The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they're friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they're just tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Because, let's face it, checking your "likes" is the new smoking."

"The urge to check Twitter or refresh Reddit becomes a nervous twitch that shatters uninterrupted time into shards too small to support the presence necessary for an intentional life." 

"Where we want to be cautious . . . is when the sound of a voice or a cup of coffee with a friend is replaced with 'likes' on a post." 

"When an entire cohort unintentionally eliminated time alone with their thoughts from their lives, their mental health suffered dramatically. On reflection, this makes sense. These teenagers have lost the ability to process and make sense of their emotions, or to reflect on who they are and what really matters, or to build strong relationships, or even to just allow their brains time to power down their critical social circuits, which are not meant to be used constantly, and to redirect that energy to other important cognitive housekeeping tasks. We shouldn't be surprised that these absences lead to malfunctions." 

"Simply put, humans are not wired to be constantly wired." 

Yikes! You can hopefully see why I like Newport’s style. He packs the punch and tells you like it is.

I'm about to commit another digital faux pax, more than one if you count writing this blog and posting it to social media! Let's say that you aren't convinced yet that you’re distracted. You're not going to read or listen to either Hyatt or Newport because you’re scrolling on Instagram. Let me give you one more resource that may help - Cal Newport's Ted Talk. It’s a good fifteen minutes, but I promise it will make you think about things we need to be thinking about!

We're distracted.

We don't have to be.

We can rewire things so that we can focus, think, and meditate on what matters most.

It is hard, but it is worth it.

Are you distracted? If so, what are you going to do to stop it?

In just a few months, applying some of the principles and techniques laid out by Hyatt and Newport have immensely served our team. They may help you get started.

First, we read the books and talked through it as a team. It is always beneficial to talk it out with people. Doing so has helped us individually to focus. I had to get off the social media hamster wheel for a bit. We were going through a transition period in life. I had to focus. I had to hear the Lord. So, I had to delete some apps and take a breather from social media as well. It has helped me to focus on what is essential in my work life and personal life. Secondly, it has helped us create a thriving team culture. Our Leader Development team culture is better than ever. We've not only had great conversations about focus, but we've also implemented some changes that have served our team well. We’ve learned techniques on helping the team collaboratively do deep work. I can't wait to see what happens in the next few months as we continue to do deep work together!

Our enemy loves distraction.

Our Savior loves us to focus.

Our role in the process:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8

Let’s do it!

If you’re game, I’d love to hear from you, pray with you, and check-in on how it is going.

So, if you’re as distracted as me, I pray that the Lord will use some of these resources in your life. Let’s focus on His kingdom and His righteousness.

Other Resources on the Topic:

Wrestling the Giant : Why I Deleted Instagram (Blog) by Andrew Peterson

Can Your Soul Survive Facebook & Twitter? (Blog) by Russell Moore

Why Facebook (and your Church) Might Be Making You Sad (Blog) by Russell Moore

Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age (Book) by Sven Birkerts

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Book) by Cal Newport

The crafting of a Precept study

The crafting of a Precept study