I’m a big believer in cutting distractions out of your life. My brain has only so many cells to spend thinking, and I want to maximize the positive impact I can make. The more it is filled with needless things to worry about, the less resources it can spend on actual useful tasks. Stephen Covey’s classic book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People touched on this. He said minimize your span of concern and focus on your span of control. In doing this, you will find that your span of control will grow because you will have more brain power freed up to do things that are meaningful.
So what are distractions that you can afford to cut out? Most media is a candidate to cut, including even “news.” Much of it isn’t particularly relevant to your life. Some art and culture is enriching, and some news sources may be worthwhile to check occasionally, but for the most part media doesn’t add much value compared to the time it sucks up. Just think about the time you spend watching TV, playing videogames, social network updates, or surfing the web. Now think about what else you could do with that time that would be more useful, more enriching, or more fulfilling. You could take classes in something you enjoy, work on a project you find rewarding, perform volunteer service, pursue a skill that will advance your career, or deepen a close relationship. Those are worthwhile things. Binge-watching a season of whatever is the latest netflix craze is not.
What are other things that suck up time? Here some I can think of:
-Superficial friends/status events (you know the relationships you can count on, focus on those)
-Unnecessarily long commutes because you need to live in a status location or “need your space.”
-Heavy alcohol use. Drinking buddies doesn’t necessarily equate to a meaningful relationship.
-Dining out frequently. With travel it actually sucks up more time than cooking for yourself.
Obviously you can’t cut everything out, but there is value in occasionally taking a critical eye towards how you spend your day and seeing what you can change.