Sunday letter, November 15th
Tell me we all have these things. These nasty little habits that plague us in one way or another. Never mind, I know we do. I am not alone. So here goes.
I have a few of them but there is one that gets in the way of my life. There is this one habit I have that powerfully redirects my thoughts and energies away from what I should be doing. I use it to distract myself from whatever is important at the moment. I use it to waste my time.
Years ago when I first got my phone I thought this is great I can check my email from anywhere and I did not have to sit with it for an hour when I got back in the door. At first it was great, but then....
Then I developed this nervous habit of checking my email every time I thought about it. It became a constant distraction to my thoughts and activities. It interrupted the flow of my thoughts and work. It distracted me when I was sitting with friends or co workers.
I checked it forty times a day. That might actually be a conservative estimate. I never actually counted. I never counted because it would be too embarrassing. It would be worse than counting the amount of cookies I eat when I make a fresh batch. I just wouldn't do that.
Whenever I picked up my phone I checked my email. When ever I went to my computer I checked my email. I get lots of email so I just told myself I was just keeping up on my work. What I was actually doing was distracting myself from my work and using email like a cigarette or a pacifier.
I knew it was not doing me any good.
I knew that when I smoked years ago too.
I know that with the cookie thing too.
I have done this for years. Years I tell you. Right before Covid hit last March I hooked a rug. A self portrait of myself with my phone. I was acknowledging that I had an issue and I was working on it. Then with Covid, I just let it go.
Still I carried that niggling thought with me that I needed to change.
I am pretty good with forming healthy habits. I keep pretty strict routines in my life especially around my creativity. I nurture it through habit. I think Twila Tharp was right. She was that bright spark who told us all creativity was a habit. Some habits feed your creativity. Other habits subvert it.
So just a week ago I created a new habit. It's barely a habit yet as they say it takes thirty days to form one. But I think I am on my way. I know I know , I might be writing about this too soon. However let me tell you why I think I am really getting there.
Starting last week I began checking my email only four times a day at consistent times. I check it at morning, noon, late afternoon and early evening. I make sure they all get answered and dealt with within the day. I am really conscientious about that. It's important to me that they do. I know four times a day is plenty to get this done.
I still pick up my phone and start to check but I stop and remind myself I will get to do that later. See email is like a little reward for me. You send in your notes and orders so checking it is kinda fun. It's really fun actually.
I think the key is reminding myself that I can have that fun later just not at this moment. The reward is there waiting for you just not right now. I have also found that there is a reward in staying focused. It feels so good. I hooked all day yesterday and found that the desire to get up and check it just goes away if you train your mind that way.
It's more respectful to the people around me to be focused on them, it's more respectful to the book I am reading, it's more respectful to myself to be clear about my intentions of what I am doing.
There are distractions everywhere.
I am easily distracted but I am working on it.
We are all working on it.
We are all working on something.
That is who we are as human beings. So if you are working on something, know that I am too. You are not alone in your trying. You are trying and that's so good.
I am trying too.
I am trying hard to be better and I am hoping that I'll never stop trying; that I'll always be looking for a better version of myself. That's what a creative life is about, making, growing, changing and making some more.
Thank you for reading.
Get hooking, it feels so good to spend creative time with yourself.
- Angela Davis