I was on my way to Meijer to get a loaf of bread. I had used the remainder of the bread and it was my turn to buy it, so I was going to make a quick stop before I forgot and before my roommate returned.
I slammed on my breaks suddenly, as the car in front of me had. The car behind me had to swerve into the turn lane to avoid hitting my car. Flustered, I peered through the window of the car in front of me. Why had he stopped so suddenly? There wasn’t a car directly in front of him. In fact, there was a space of at least ten feet between him and the closest car.
We started moving again, and I shrugged it off. Until the same car in front of me started veering. Left, into the turn lane, then back into his lane. Then right, inches from the curb. Then back into the center of his lane.
Then, through his back window, I saw his right-hand rise mid swerve.
He was on his cell-phone.
Annoyed, I rolled my eyes and started to switch into the other lane, but I realized my turn was coming too quickly. He swerved some more, his face toward the phone in his hand instead of toward the road.
I lightly tapped on my horn to grab his attention. We were driving on a fairly busy street and not only did I fear for my own safety, but also his and the safety of everyone else on the road.
I was appalled on how he could choose to watch his phone instead of the road. Did he not know the responsibility in his hands? Why did he let his focus shift? What was so important that it couldn’t have waited?
It could have waited. The distraction could have waited.
How often have I been distracted, when my focus should have been elsewhere?
How often have I checked my phone in class or mindlessly scrolled through Facebook in the bathroom at work?
How many times have I answered an unimportant text message while in a conversation with a friend or family member? How many times have I dropped whatever I was doing to check that notification or respond to that “ding?”
How many people have I put on the back burner? How many opportunities have I missed? How much time have I wasted?
How many times have I started my day with my phone instead of God?
I’m not proud of my answers to these questions.
I’m guilty of all of these and more. I’ve let distraction reorganize my priorities.
Since I started writing this blog post, I’ve checked my phone three times. Once to respond to a text, another to change my Spotify playlist, and the third just to check. I’ve formed a habit of checking my phone every 15 minutes. Sometimes even more often than that.
What other priorities have been shifted?
As noted in the car story above, split focus can be dangerous. When the driver was paying attention to his phone, his driving performance plummeted.
When I’m at work and I check my phone every ten minutes, my performance lacks.
When I’m writing and I leave my phone on the desk in front of me, I write significantly less.
When I bring my phone with me into the restroom, a two-minute trip becomes a twenty-minute trip.
For a generation that claims to have no time, we sure spend a lot of it doing nothing.
Can you imagine what you could accomplish if you put the phone down for a day? Readjusted your focus?
We all understand the importance of refraining from cell phone use while driving (even though some of us do it anyway). Why not refrain from cell phone use whenever you’ve put your mind to something?
I guarantee you — you’re not going to miss that much.
I’m challenging myself to reevaluate my priorities this week. While I’m working, I’m going to leave my phone in my bag. First thing in the morning, I’m going to get out of bed before I check my phone. If those notifications waited all night, they can wait a few more minutes. I’m going to spend my free-time pursuing my hobbies instead of scrolling through social media, then refreshing and scrolling some more.
I’m challenging myself to live in the moment and hold myself to a higher standard.
Won’t you join me?
I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish with less distraction.
Do you find that your productivity changes when your focus changes?
What are some ways you can realign your priorities?