Thursday, February 16, 2017

Feeling Distracted

Distracted - (adjective)  having the attention diverted


I have a number of goals this year.  Fun goals that are also useful.  Things like cross stitching Christmas ornaments for my family.  Making a quilt.  Finishing my large cross-stitch project.  Making cards to send for special occasions.  They aren't dreary projects that sap my energy, they are sweet encouraging projects that I love to work on.  But somehow I don't work on them nearly as much as I should, or even could.

The funny thing is that I used to.  When the children were younger, even in the middle of homeschooling, being a Stamping Up demonstrator, being involved in a college orchestra and faculty choir, teaching a women's Sunday school class and more, I was able to do these things more regularly.  What is different now??

I've thought and thought about this and I have come to the conclusion that it is the internet.  When the children were young the internet was sort of way out there.  I remember at my first job I was introduced to the Telex machine... sort of a forerunner of email.  It was amazing to me to watch messages come in from Israel and India.  Wow.  

My next job was in a temporary help office, where I used computers to help train people in the skills they would need to get a job.  But my typewriter with the digital screen was still the thing I used most.  

After that I went to work as a secretary in a computer store.  I was surrounded by computers and used them everyday - taught word processing programs and used the latest graphic design programs.  Computers were amazing and I loved them.

When we moved again and I became a full time homemaker and homeschooler we always had a computer in our home.  We used it for games, learning how to type, writing reports, keeping track of the budget - even for running homeschooling programs here and there.  I couldn't imagine life without its ease and convenience.

Having the internet in our home was a new experience all together.  I could email my husband at work.  I could research homeschooling online.  And I found FLYLady!  YAY!  I didn't spend much time on the internet then, though, because I was busy cleaning my house and learning how to run my home.  But then the internet took off.

Blogging - FaceBook - Games - iPhones - iPads - Music - Instagram - Groups - Pinterest

Many of those I have held back on.  I have a private FaceBook account that is only to interact with a couple of cross stitch and stamping groups.  I have an Instagram feed for my cards and cross stitch.  I don't have an iPhone - or even a smart phone at all, for that matter.  

But I do have email.
And I do blog.
And I have a web store.
And I have an iPad.
And I play games.

And I am distracted.

So rather than picking up my cross stitch in my free minutes I pick up my computer and check my email.  And rather than taking time to fold the clothes on the bed, I check Instagram.  And rather than  spending two or three hours working on a quilt, I interrupt my time to play a game or two.

More and more lately I have been convicted of this.  Especially when I find my attention span shortening in my day to day tasks.  Or when I feel that pull in my spirit - "go check the computer".  Just to test my theory I turned off my computer and iPad the other day for about 4 hours.  In the first hour alone I found my thoughts turn to going online or checking something on my computer about 10 times.  That is every 6 minutes or so!!!  Is it any wonder that I struggle staying focused on getting things done??

After that little experiment I decided that I was going to start to consolidate all my computer tasks and only check in online twice a day - morning and evening, and then turn off the computer during the afternoon.  And I decided that once a week I wouldn't go online at all.  And I decided that once every month or two I would go offline for a week at a time.

And then my daughter told me about a fun new game and I forgot all my good intentions.

So when, last night, I heard a still small voice saying "It's a distraction", I didn't want to listen.  I didn't want to hear that.  I *need* a distraction!  But I also need to be spending my life loving others, and if this particular distraction is only causing me to focus on myself, then it is worthless in light of eternity.  God has given me so many things that I enjoy that I do to bless others.  All those projects I enjoy - cross stitch, card making, quilting... all of those have an end result that will bless someone else.  Personally, I need to be spending more time on those and less on empty fun.

But then my "self" says - "But Pinterest is helpful!  I get lots of good ideas that I can make for others!!"  But do you actually do them??  If you can show self-control and surf for 20 minutes, writing down the ideas and then doing them, great.  But somehow I think I have enough ideas to last me for a long, long, long time, without the need to add more.

So, am I saying that I should avoid the internet all together?  No, I can't do that!  I am so thankful that God has given me a web store to take care of and a place here on the blog to connect with you.  I just know that in my own life, I need to limit the hold that the web has on me by being careful with the precious resource of my time. 

Going forward I would like to try to unplug daily,  weekly, and monthly.  So if I'm late answering an email, or at some point you read that I am not going to be blogging for a month, don't worry.  I am just redeeming the time so I can act on being a blessing.

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