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5 Ways to Fight Distractions

I have set a new goal of writing for an hour every day. Normally, I write for zero hours every day, so this is quite a leap. The problem is, when I sit down to write, suddenly my mind can focus on anything but writing.

I should check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MySpace, Google Buzz.

What is playing on Pandora?

I need to update all of my apps.

I need another Diet Coke.

I bet I could write if I moved to the sunroom, the deck, the living room, Starbucks.

I need a vanilla chai.

He has a brand new MacAir, I wonder what he does for a living?

What’s the weather?

What was I supposed to be doing? Oh, that’s right, writing for an hour. Well I’ve killed the hour so that should count for something.

The challenge is that it isn’t just writing; almost anything that requires concentration sends me off on a little odyssey of randomness. StumbleUpon is based on the way my mind works.

Email, smart phones and ubiquitous wi-fi are the bane of my existence. I can fill hours of what appears to be work with nothing of substance. My only takeaways at the end of the day can be the gross domestic product of Argentina, the lifetime OBP for Dusty Baker, and a YouTube video of roller-blading dachshunds.

Distraction is my Achilles heel.

Paul writes the antidote to distraction in 1 Corinthians 9:

1 Corinthians 9:24 (ESV) Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

I hate that phrase “self-control,” but at the end of the day, that is the difference between distracted surfing and disciplined productivity.

So here are my five (oft violated) tips for self-controlled focus:

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Geoff has served on the leadership teams at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church, and as Managing Director of Exponential. He is the author of several books, including Together: A Guide for Couples in Ministry written with his wife Sherry. Along with writing, Geoff coaches churches and leaders around the U.S. and in Europe. Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado. Twitter: @geoffsurratt