I once had a job in which I was interrupted every 6 minutes on average. That is no longer an issue in my work, but curiously it seems that I have an habitual tendency to seek a change of focus roughly every 6 minutes or so.
What I have noticed is that as the external distractions are removed, internal ones take their place — I distract myself. External distractions stress and frustrate me when I am trying to get something done, but without them I allow myself to stray off task remarkably easily anyway. There is a relentless hum of unproductive activity in my heart which pulls me away from what’s most important.
Lately I have been increasingly going ‘unplugged’, especially from my iPod. It has been my practice to listen to sermons and audiobooks on the bus to and from work each day, which has been very helpful to me in deepening my faith. Yet even good spiritual food can become a substitute for actively cultivating a Godward heart. I do not need constant input, the information coming into my mind also needs to be considered and understood, compared with scripture and prayed into my life.
A very helpful tool helping me direct my heart Godward is memorising Bible verses. I’m not very good at it, but the concentration required for me to memorise a Bible verse certainly pushes other internal distractions out, and the goal of memorising provides focus to bring me back to my task when my thoughts do wander off into Lala land.
Psalm 131 is a fantastic guide:
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvellous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
A humble heart, a focus on what God has revealed for us to know, determined effort to quieten my soul and hope firmly placed in God.
Now to consistently remember to do it!