This past weekend, I spent 2.5 days at the condo in Caswell Beach that my sister and I share. The little slice of paradise was supposed to be my parent’s retirement sanctuary. Unfortunately, dad died in 2005 from a rare protein disorder called amyloidosis and my mom died four years later. Sometimes, when I’m here I reflect on the spring season of 2008, we were visiting for Easter weekend with another family and mom decided to stay next door at her good friend’s condo, Nancy.

I was standing at the kitchen window looking across the grassy area at Nancy’s condo, talking to my girlfriend Liza when I said, “I wonder what’s going to happen to this place.” She said, “What do you mean?” I said, “I just get the feeling my mom won’t be here long.” There was silence.

Three months later, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In my spirit, I felt my mom was so distracted by grief, that made it difficult for her to find joy after my dad died. I struggle with distractions too and the reason I went to the beach was to work on creating a new professional development program called Open Heart Communication. This program will help physicians and nurses improve communications with each other, their patients, families and also administration.

Healthcare has always been a passion of mine, beginning as a dental assistant, dental receptionist, office manager, healthcare consultant, adjunct hospital chaplain and later director of patient and family experience for a hospital. (Yes, I know, it sounds like I can’t hold a job) Those of you that have read my book, know the background story.

In fact, that’s something else I’m working on is a revision to the book, My Year on the Inside. I took my maiden name back after my divorce in 2017 and want to add some testimonials on the back cover and there is one typo…to my knowledge. If you are interested in reading it and sharing a testimonial (and feedback if you find any more typos) please let me know.

The new speaking bureau that will represent me recommended I make the changes and she wants me to include my book for each participant in the new program. Toggling between manual prep and book edits, I needed to manage distractions. These are some key success strategies that helped me accomplish my goals.

  1. Planning for Saturday: scheduled 90 minute hyperfocus sessions to focus on ONE thing beginning at noon (turned off cell phone, alarms on computer)
  2. Took 5-10 minute breaks in between focus sessions for coffee, water and stretching
  3. Scheduled time for lunch, dinner and afternoon snack (20 minute break)
  4. Scheduled time for a nap (yes, I LOVE naps) Recommend 30 minutes or 90 minutes
  5. Clocked out at 8pm Saturday to visit with Nancy next door and then watched a movie
  6. While working, chose to alternate between Gregorian and Smooth Jazz on Pandora
  7. Lit a candle for aromatherapy and stationed my computer to face the ocean
  8. On Sunday, began the day with a smoothie, coffee and read a devotion
  9. Planning for the day: Write blog, walk on beach, shower, then begin the 90 minute focus sessions (turned off cell phone, alarms on computer)
  10. Scheduled a visit to my aunt Sandy’s condo Sunday afternoon to watch the XFL game with the NY Guardian’s (Sandy was my mom’s best friend from WVU, who married her brother George and mom to QB coach G.A. Mangus, my cousin) I hope all you people that aren’t from West Virginia can follow that linkage…
  11. While on the beach, let my brain wander into scatterfocus mode to generate Get To Do’s and made my list when I got back to the condo
  12. Set a goal to be at least ½ way completed with the manual, book edits complete and blog done by noon Monday

I learned about hyperfocus and scatterfocus sessions in the book HYPER FOCUS, How to be More Productive in a World of Distraction by Chris Bailey.

One final element that is helping me manage distractions is setting a time limit when scrolling Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. These are terrific mediums in many respects, however, on occasion I feel sucked into a time warp and without realizing it, I’ve lost 30 minutes of my life. Granted, I left the dog with ph2 (previous husband 2) and it was Emma’s turn to be at her dad’s so that was a blessing to help me with avoid additional distractions.

If you have a big project, it also helps to “chunk it down” (a principle I learned from Jack Canfield in his book Success Principles) into manageable pieces and going off site or away on a retreat can invigorate your brain. Be a catalyst for change and manage your distractions or your distractions will manage you.