focus.


Finding your focus in a busy world like this one can be difficult. How do we manage it? The stress, the activities, the relationships, the daily tasks. It looks easy on the outside, but that’s only if you’re watching someone else do it seamlessly. When you’re the one trying to concentrate, it’s easy to lose attention. So let’s talk strategy.

I’d say sleep is one of the most important things for me if I need to focus on something. If I don’t get enough sleep, my mind is foggy, I’m distracted, and I would rather be doing anything than what I’m actually doing. That’s a problem! Now, this is just my experience, again, but there are so many studies that would point to the same solution. Get a decent amount of rest so you can do your best.

Change the level of noise! For some people, this may be silence. That’s awesome! I would suggest you find yourself a sturdy pair of earplugs and get cracking on those goals. For others, it might be white noise or nature sounds. Perhaps get a white noise machine, or for a more affordable option, find an alternative online. When I sleep, I use rainymood.com. Of course, I wouldn’t use that to focus because it helps me sleep… that’s a blog post for another time.

And the final few probably need music to focus. I’m in this group! I tend to turn on lo-fi hip-hop beats to keep me in the zone. Others like k-pop, classical, EDM… I would recommend, unless you find that it helps, to stay away from music in your language. It simply turns the brain on to listen in to what’s playing, and that’s not what we need.

Adjust your environment! Personally, I have a dedicated desk to anything focus-oriented. I’m there if I’m writing, studying, editing, making art… and so on. It’s well-lit, comfy, and I’m surrounded by positive reinforcement (decorations and things that make me happy). I also make sure I’m surrounded by everything I need so I’m not tempted to get up and get distracted more.

Sometimes, the reason we can’t focus is that the designated environment we have is just cramping our style. If I have writer’s block, I’ll move my writing to a café or library. And when I’m feeling brave, I’ll switch from a computer to a pen. It could even be changing from your couch to the chair next to it. The body likes routine, but our minds like new experiences. It’s up to you to decide what you need, but a shift (even going outside) can help you focus.

Do something else. Seriously. If you can’t concentrate on a task, and you’ve tried everything, and it just won’t work, do another activity. Even if that essay is due tomorrow or the meeting is in three hours or you promised your audience it would be out by a certain time. Stop. Put everything down and do something else. When you come back to it, I can almost guarantee it’ll be easier.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. I want to remind you that my book, the garden boy, will be released for pre-order on valentine’s day (February 14th). Follow this page to keep updated and be the first to order it!

-ellynn

wintertime: digital minimalism


Social media is such an easy way to hide in our shells and pretend we’re close to our friends and family during the winter. At family gatherings, it’s easy to ignore the awkward silence that comes (because we don’t know how to make conversation) and stare at a video game.

When we wake up in the morning and don’t feel like getting up, the little portable device on our bedside table can distract us and convince us to stay in bed. It’s cold, it’s dark, and it’s easy to stay cuddled up with a Netflix episode… but that’s just not practical, nor is it healthy.

Sitting with our devices prevents us from getting sunlight, exercise, social interaction, and motivation. So how about, this winter, we take a minimalist approach?

back atcha with the list format: six ways you can reduce screen time

  1. Change your phone setup: This has been the easiest one for me. It’s a lot easier to stay off my phone if my phone tells me to put it down: my lock screen literally says so. “Put the phone down.” If that’s not a deterrent, then we go to phase two: the minimalist home screen. I have an app called “a decluttered launcher – minimalism & productivity,” which is still in its beta testing, but the launcher allows you a total of 6 home screen apps, Google search, and a swipe feature to search for any other apps. When I open my phone and see only Gmail, Messages, Spotify, and Notes, I’m going to quickly find what I need and lock the screen again.
  2. Have a place for your electronics: You can’t be tempted to use them if you don’t see them! This is a seemingly obvious but fool-proof trick. If you carry a purse, backpack, or just have big pockets, you can slip your distracting device into a specific spot. Sounds stupid, right? But as long as you don’t have it in your hand, you’re not going to think about opening the lock screen every two seconds.
  3. Turn off notifications: *ring ring* Yep, we all know that noise. And it makes our ears perk up. “Oh, did [insert name here] send me a Snapchat?” It’s monotonous! And don’t even get me started about emails. I’m not proud of this, but yes, I have six email accounts. Six! Is that even necessary? Probably not, but I do use them all. Gosh, I probably get fifty emails a day, minimum. In the working world, there’s a lot of information to be passed around. Can you imagine getting a notification every time you got an email? I did it for a while, and that’s fifty-plus times I was checking my phone every day. But that was only for email. Turn them off.
  4. Set a time to check your socials: This goes for email as well. When you’re sitting in line for McDonald’s, waiting for a movie, or letting your dinner heat up, what do you turn to? That rectangle in your pocket. This is a new idea! Have a set time every day that you check your social media. For me, I allow a thirty-minute window. It doesn’t sound like much (given how much we scroll throughout the day), but all you need to do is see what your friends are posting, respond, and make your own posts. You don’t need to catch up with the Jenners or yell at a heckler on Twitter. Social media should be a tool that inspires you, not tires you. Set a time, and don’t scroll aimlessly before or after that time.
  5. Get really, really bored: Boredom is a recipe for creativity. Get SUPER bored! Lock your electronics in a vault. Give it to a friend (with a passcode if you must). Use an app like Forest, which doesn’t let you use your phone while you plant a tree. Bury it in the ground! Whatever gets you away from the darn thing. Your mind, when deprived of entertainment devices, forces itself to find new things on which to focus. When the apps and games and distractions are gone, where does your mind wander? Mine tends to move toward writing, music, and physical activity. Think of it as an experiment!
  6. Don’t deprive yourself of fun: Sometimes, what we need is some good old-fashioned FUN! What do you love to do? I like rollercoasters, bike rides and hikes, cooking, dancing, exploring the city… You gotta figure out what inspires you. What makes you want to put your phone down? What whispers to you? Maybe you want to serve at a local shelter or childcare center. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try stand-up comedy. Maybe, you and your college roommate haven’t caught up in a while. Just have some fun! We spend so much time in life stressing out and trying to get ahead. Take one moment for yourself to enjoy living.

There you have it! Six small things that, when used, can hopefully help you limit your screen time. Are you going to try these? Let me know in the comments! And a friendly reminder, you can get my posts straight to your inbox (when you do check your email) by signing up in the menu bars above! Have an awesome day.

-ellynn ❤