March 17, 2014


Above: a moment of unfocused calm from our weekend in Wilmington, just over a year ago. 

Like a lot people (I think / I hope), I've become too easily distracted by my phone. Recently I've found myself checking it without any intention - just swiping it unlocked and checking Instagram or Twitter or my email before I even know what's happening. But the kicker is, that I'm usually also flipping through a magazine or cookbook while this happens – and sometimes with the TV on in the background as well! It's too much.  

So I've adopted a mantra of sorts, to snap me out of these diffused moments and focus me on the task or engagement at hand:

One thing at a time. 

So when I'm checking my phone while reading while watching TV, I can pause and figure out what one thing I actually want to be doing right now. What do I actually want to absorb? (It's usually that magazine or cookbook.) Or sometimes - what is the best use of my time right now? (It's usually not flipping through my phone - especially if there's a new episode of Parks and Rec on and I'm transitioning from work day to downtime.) 

So when I'm out having a hard-earned happy-hour drink with Micah, and yet again reach absent-mindedly for my phone, I can pause and remind myself why I'm there in the first place: to connect with my man, to ask him about his day, to dream about our future together. Not to see what everyone else is doing at that exact moment. I've started actually out-loud excusing myself whenever I need to use my phone around him (whether that's to text back a friend or take a photo), to remind myself of the boundaries I'd like to put in place.

So when I'm working on designing a logo or writing a Brand & Business Vision Guide, instead of keeping multiple tabs open so I can know the instant I get a personal email (or be distracted by articles to read and interior design photos to ogle over), I can pause and get rid of all the online white noise that's standing between me and a really stunning project. Now I keep my email and to-do list tabs open, and that's it. (Sometimes if I really need to buckle down, I'll close all the tabs for a designated period of time.) It's a constant battle with my monkey brain to keep from inadvertently inviting overstimulation, but designating chunks of time (if I work on this design until XXam, I can browse Apartment Therapy for XX minutes before switching gears to this other project) has helped. 

One thing at a time. 

On a smaller level, it keeps me focused and is hopefully resetting my phone-checking habits. It's a reminder that the greatest journeys start with that first one step(/thing). But on a larger level, it reminds me of the kind of person I want to be: a friend or partner who is fully engaged in our conversation, a working creative who is fully focused on her writing and design projects, a person who is fully respectful of how her own time and energy are best spent throughout the day. It's a form of self-care, too; I'm at my best when I feel centered and present, which never happens when I'm unfocused and diffused.


A while back, I wrote a post about how I regulate mindless phone-poking at night, which is a great companion to this one. I've sadly fallen out of this practice – I used to rely on Micah's alarm clock, but now I wake up before him, which has put my phone back on my nightstand. But after writing this post, I've decided to put my phone out of arm's reach in the bedroom, so I can still use the alarm function without being tempted to check it. 

One thing at a time.