An HR Guy’s Guide to Limiting Distractions

I get a lot of feedback. From family members, loved ones, friends, and co-workers. I get feedback via email, voicemail, DM, IM, letters, and the most effective, face-to-face. I read it all and hear it all. Some I disregard, delete and erase and some I save and read, on occasion, for motivation. All is welcomed and not everything is valid, but I take it all in. I recently received some feedback from the most important people in my life: my daughter’s. They said, “Dad, you’re always on your phone.” Ouch.

At first, I brushed this off. Of course I’m always on my phone. I’m reading emails and getting the latest news updates and checking Waze to see how long it will take us to get to this activity and that activity. I’m reading reviews on TripAdvisor for our next vacation. I’m looking for the best deal and making dinner reservations. I’m checking Twitter to see what kind of nonsense is happening. I’m on Snapchat to engage see what type of content my daughter is posting. I’m updating my Instagram story with all of the goodness that is my life. And I’m not looking up at the ones that are the goodness of my life.

So I decided to take this piece of feedback to heart. At first, I looked into all of the anti-distraction apps. There are a lot. Some that ban you from sites. Others that lock your phones. About 3 minutes into the search, I got bored. Why do I need an app to keep me from checking other apps? I’ve kicked several habits with some good ol’ fashioned will power and determination, so I decided to give that a try here.

Instead of finding an app or a program, or deleting all of my apps, I found a drawer. That’s right. I made a rule for me and started the experiment, last Friday. Whenever I would enter my house, my phone would go into a drawer. I would leave the ringer on as not to miss any important phone calls or texts from family members. But that phone would not be in my hands unless I was leaving the house or putting it back into the drawer.

I’ll have to admit, it wasn’t that bad, this weekend. I thought I would struggle a bit when I had a little downtime, but I just found other things to do to occupy my time. When cooking, I actually cooked instead of documenting the whole thing on my Instagram story. When my daughters were playing piano, I sat back and listened instead of scrolling my phone. My kids were actually a little annoyed with me because I was very focused on them. The dad jokes doubled. My singing outbursts tripled. They got to see more of my face and less of my growing bald spot.

I read way to many posts about limiting distractions and living in the moment. This is not one of those posts. I love technology, social media, and the value they provide for connection and business. I have built some good relationships and friendships through technology and I don’t intend to walk away from them. Each person chooses what’s important to them and no person should tell you what’s real and what’s not. I’m just choosing to be more present when I’m in my home and in the presence of my kids.

I realize I only have a finite amount of time with my daughters. As it stands today, I get to spend about 3 hours of actual face time with them, per day. And that will only diminish as their activities increase and they start to spend more time with their friends. I’m not going all Harry Chapin here with the Cats in the Cradle, but I want to be present when I have the time.

It’s only been a weekend, but I have my accountability partners to keep me in check. My daughters know when and where that phone is and we have had a little fun developing the rules. I’m going to continue to give this a try to see what epiphanies I have. Maybe there will be none, but it will give me something to write about.


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