Hit The Pause Button

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

~Philippians 4:8


When was the last time you left the house without your phone?  Or your iPad?  Or your iWatch?  When was the last time you were in an environment where there wasn't a screen within easy reach?  Or there wasn't a radio on, or music playing through your earbuds, or a TV playing in the background?  

I was in a ZOOM call just over a year ago, and I was at the same time carefully wording an email response to an delicate inquiry on another screen, AND texting back and forth with my co-worker on something that was going on in her area she needed help with.  And then somebody asked me a question in that ZOOM call . . . and I'd only half-heard the question, and of course answered a question that wasn't asked.  And I managed to send that dicey email unfinished in the process . . .

And I suddenly realized this is insane.  It's no wonder we're so stressed out in our culture.  The more conveniences we have that supposedly save us time, the less time we have.  Because we never put the devices down.  We never unplug.  And our attention span is never on just one thing.  We're always doing several things at once.

There are studies that are showing our technology is rewiring our brains.  All these distraction are impacting our ability to relax, and our ability to concentrate, and our ability to think deeply. Our attention spans are growing shorter and shorter.  

I've made a few changes in my life that have made a huge difference.  Three are worth noting:

First:  I schedule time every month to be alone in a quiet place with no devices.  I take my Bible.  I take pen and paper.  I have a nice place I go with a beautiful view, and I sit at a picnic table and I read the Bible, and I pray, and I think, and I write in my book, and I think through issues that I'm having.  No distractions.  I don't go to be alone, I go there to seek God's direction and guidance and wisdom.  Sometimes I'm there all day.  Sometimes I'm there a few hours.  I just let my need for that quiet time with God to dictate the time I need to spend there.  I always know when I'm done, and I go back into the world refreshed.  But I schedule an entire day so there is no pressure and no stress, and nowhere else to be.  The clarity I've been able to achieve on issues in my life when I take the sabbaticals each month has been life changing for me.  I take the problems and the stress and the concerns of the world out to the woods and give them to God and let Him guide me.  And often the solutions to our issues wind up being so simple when we take the time to think and pray about them and let God lead us in the answers to them.

Second:  I do one thing at a time.  There are times when that's not possible, but for the most part, I start and finish a task before I move on to another.  I turn off the radio when I'm working very often.  When I'm talking to somebody I close my laptop and I turn off my phone.  One thing at a time.  

Third:  I work to keep distractions to a minimum every day.  I'll turn the radio in my car off.  I don't automatically turn my TV on when I get home anymore.  I used to do that, and then I'd fall into that distraction.  I put absolute limits social media time--that's another area that can eat a lot of time and focus.  I watch a set amount of news a day.  And it's pretty small.  The news creates a tremendous amount of anxiety and stress and division in our culture, so I try and limit what I take in, and what sources of news I trust.  

These changes didn't happen all at once, I've created these habits over the last few years.  I told somebody this week I've learned to slow down to God's pace of life rather than try to keep up with the world's pace.  It's improved my life, and my faith, and my relationship with God.  Not to mention it has enhance my enjoyment of where I'm at in life.

And you know what?  I not only get the same amount of work done, but the work I'm doing is a lot better quality than it used to be.  

Is your life a little too hectic?  Do you need to take a pause and figure out how to slow your life down a bit? Hit the pause button--take a day, find a quiet place, and ask God to help you rework your schedule and your life.

~Todd E. Creason