Mid-year review of distractions

The book is permanently open. It won’t close. It’s stuck. I could force it by stacking it under something heavy.

The book is my bullet journal. I started it in January as part of my Year of Less Distractions because the man in the video said it would help reduce distractions.

Does it?

Yes, but only up to a point. It doesn’t stop me looking at my social feeds, or watching TV, or standing at the back door soaking up the winter sun when it’s out … or tackling a jigsaw; thankfully, because all these are important tasks when in moderation.

Maintaining a bullet journal is helping me maintain focus during all the weirdness of 2020. I just wish it would also create more hours in the day or, at the very least, infuse me with superhuman energy.

How you make a list makes a difference

The best list is a sensory list, one that activates the senses.

Nevertheless, I grimaced a little when I first investigated the phenomena that is bullet journalling. The YouTube search results contained video after video of elaborately decorated pages that contained more fluff than stuff. Perhaps I would have done as well, when I was younger.

But, in spite of my reservations, a sensory list is the best list. AND it doesn’t have to be distracting.

In my notebook, the buff-coloured pages are covered with a barely-noticeable grid of dots, just noticeable enough to be intriguing. One day, I will be unable to resist the urge to doodle.

The pencil gradually becomes dull and the lines on the letters thicken. Each letter feels slightly different and, before long, the graphite edge starts to drag uncomfortably across the page.

The pencil sharpener snaps open. There is a peculiar counter-intuitive action where the hands rotate in opposite directions. If you focus on the action, you can feel the impact of the blade as it removes another coil.

We don’t have to decorate (if we don’t want to). Instead, we simply have to notice.

Does your notetaking system trigger your senses?


How it came to this point

In 2012, I started using a Year Of theme to bring some focus to different areas of my life that could do with a bit more focus. The theme would be decided sometime in December and officially “start” on 1 January. It’s kept quite broad and very open to make space for serendipitous opportunities to explore.

The first attempt, my Year of Music, was very successful and I’m still living with the benefits. That knowledge keeps me going.

For 2020, I opted for Less Distractions because there seemed to be too much happening, or needing to happen, or wanting to happen if only …

2020 is progressing well so far, on this front at least.

Stay safe.


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