Monday, October 07, 2013

The Slow Down Challenge # 4: Disturb Me, Not!

I’m joining the Slow Down Challenge initiated by one of my favourite writers Jeff Goins. If you want to jump in, here’s how.

The Challenge:
1.       Decide what you will do and who you will be WHEN you get interrupted. You don’t have to let people steal your time, but choose your response before it happens.
2.       Block out time to spend with a person who usually interrupts you. Call her just to chat; if local, ask her to lunch.
3.       When an interruption occurs, welcome it. Look for what you can learn from the experience, and don’t get annoyed. Instead, embrace this as a chance to grow.

Lately, I’ve been doing a LOT of writing for my blog as a result of trying to accomplish the Slow Down Challenge # 3. For two weeks, I laboured over my travelogue series to the last letter. Fighting all the distractions was pretty hard, especially since we live next door to my nephew (aged 4) and niece (aged 3). There isn’t a day they don’t burst through the door screaming or giggling. I later found out they frequent our home to collect their daily dose of candies or sweets.

They are adorable, irresistible, and sometimes really irritating. My niece is THE BOSS. When she enters my room, she smiles sweetly and lets me cuddle her. Such a cutie. Then she grabs my hand, my fingers – whatever she can hold on to – and pulls me toward the canisters that keep the candies. At times when I’m relentlessly chasing an idea with my fingers, I pull back and resist. Sometimes, I win and she walks away. Sometimes, I grudgingly comply. On the other hand, my nephew and I can already engage in a simple conversation and he’s tall enough to reach the canisters so he simply drops by my room to poke his nose into my business, asking a series of follow-up questions to my answers to his questions. Here’s our typical conversation:

Nephew: What you doing?
Me: Working.
Nephew: Why are you working?
Me: Because I have to.
Nephew: Why do you have to?
Me: (Grasps for answer.)

I’ve come to love and hate their interruptions. I love those tykes! I’d hug, kiss, and cuddle them. But when they distract me, what little brats! But I realized it doesn’t have to be either or. And I found out, there’s a way to weave these distractions into my everyday routine. I started treating those distractions as breaks – just like bathroom breaks, and I actually use the time to play with them a little. It’s a huge help to my writing too. The effect is similar when I’m stuck in a rut and leave my desk for a while to get some fresh air or fix a cup of coffee. When I play with them, my mind relaxes and gives me a couple of new strategies to attack the piece. I’ve come to appreciate the distractions and turned them instead into necessary pauses. After all, that’s what I came back here for: to spend more time with the people I love.        

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