I was discussing with a friend recently about my thoughts about certain aspects about the approach to life I am currently exercising. They described it as “Conscious Living”. That phrase struck a cord with me .
The Minimalists talk about “living more deliberately” which is pretty much the same thing, but I think “Conscious Living” seems to feel a more accurate for me.
I would define “Conscious Living” to be the following:
- Removing distractions and being focused on taking actions towards your long term values
- Being the “driver” in all aspects of your life as much as possible
- Taking control to shape your life, and reality, in a way that most beneficially and constructively improves the person you are
- Striving to be the “highest” version of yourself
- Taking advice from your version of yourself 10 years older than you
- Problem solving instead of complaining
- Asking better questions
- Living in the “present moment”
- Appreciating and having gratitude for what you have
- Knowing why you are doing what you are doing
- Making the world a better place
- Improving the environment
- Modelling the life you want your children to live
- Growing physically, mentally/intellectually, and spiritually
- Contributing to others
- Love yourself and Love others
- Less judging, more appreciating
And there is probably a whole lot of others which I’ll also think about later. There is also a lot of overlap in the ones I have already listed as well.
For this post, I’ll talk about “Removing Distractions”. The following video was one I came across which in part talks about a few of the practical things that you can do to remove distractions and take back control of your day, and in essence, your life.
Things I have picked up from podcasts that I have listened to in the past and have tried or have implemented are:
- Delete social media apps – No more Facebook app, I have to go to Safari to get onto Facebook now. Making it harder to get onto social media means you are less likely to use it. I never really got into Instagram even though I am a photographer, and Twitter isn’t really an Australian thing judging from the number of people I know on Twitter.
- No mobile phone in the bedroom during sleep – Mostly implemented most days. The phone is on a charging dock outside the bedroom. My daughter is usually my alarm clock, and there is always an old fashion bedside clock available to tell the time. In the past I have slept with the meditation app, Calm, playing white noise, so have had the phone or ipad in the bedroom, but avoid looking at it as much as possible.
- Turn off notifications as much as possible – Almost every notification is deactivated on my phone. Emails are manual fetch. Group Whatsapp messages are muted, and only individual Whatsapp messages come through. SMS or call me if you really want me. Everything else is OFF. The phone is a tool. You control the phone, the phone does not control you.
- No TV – Free to air tv has sort of accidentally been removed when we had some renovations done and the antenna stopped working. We tried indoor antenna but that stopped after a while. Then we had Netflix, and even that has now been unsubscribed from. Youtube and the Tenplay app now replaces a lot of any media consumption time. Not saying it is better, however, there are no commercials (if Youtube Red) or less ads compared with free to air tv. Also you control when you see things. More deliberate. Not to say it is better though, as you can easily go down the rabbit hole of Youtube video binging.
- Sell, donate, repurpose, recycle, trash – I started writing for this point, but it started turning into a post by itself. Let’s just say, physical clutter distracts you and adds to your mental clutter. Walking into a room which only has a few things in it brings a sense of peace and clarity, while one with lots of toys on the floor (our living room) brings more of a sense of chaos and distraction. You can try and block it out, but your subconscious still has the image filling up our mind in the background.
- Have a plan – a morning routine and an evening routine. Waking up early has the advantage of being in control of your time and environment (excluding making lots of noise because everyone else is sleeping in the house). Start your day with a routine and plan, and you don’t need to think, you have a set of productive things to be done, and you are ready to tackle the world before most people even wake up. You don’t check your phone and become distracted in answering emails, checking Facebook, etc. This early morning waking habit over a long enough period of time compounds giving you, say 7 hours a week (1 hour a day if you get up at 5:30am and everyone is up at 7am factoring in the time taken for the toilet, teeth brushing, and other bibs and bobs) more productive time than you would otherwise have, and 350+ more hours a year. Imagine what you could do with that time. And as the video pointed out, a routine means you will save your good decision making will power for more important things. I’ve seen my wife after looking after our daughter for a whole day, and I now understand decision fatigue is very real. I haven’t really got a night time routine, other than a rule of no phone in the bedroom for me and try and sleep early.
- Plugging in – The opposite of distractions is having focus. Removing distractions allows you to focus. Anything that takes away from your focus is a distraction. At work, I plug myself in using the Calm app’s white noise and noise cancelling earphones. May be annoying for people when they want to talk to you, however, it allows me to concentrate without being distracted by conversations I may otherwise stop work for. Sure, that defeats that work wants with a open plan office and promoting collaborative incidental discussions while saving on office costs, but you can’t win them all.
- Smaller lists – Having a few thing to achieve is good. Having only one thing to achieve is better. Having a long list to achieve is distracting, as you are never giving your full attention on the current task at hand. Sure, there are some things you need to plan ahead for but simplistically speaking, do more by focusing on less.
- Schedule responses – Whether it be emails, or Whatsapp messages, designate a time to respond to messages. Don’t check the all the time in between tasks. Respond, not react. Take control of your time.
I think that is about covers it. I’m sure there are some things that I’ve left out, but the above are all that come to mind when I think about removing distractions.