Distractions are everywhere. You’re trying to get work done, but your mind keeps wandering off to think about that new gossipy thing you heard about your co-worker, or that reality show you can’t miss tonight. Even when we’re trying to focus on a task, it’s hard to resist the pull of a distraction. When it comes to hobbies, miniature painting, tabletop gaming, and other creative endeavors, the problem of distractions is even worse.
In this article, I bring to your attention the problem of distractions when it comes to hobbies, and I offer some advice on how to focus your attention on a single project. By the end, hopefully you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the power of “No”.
More than Ever…
There are so many things to see, do, and learn in the world of hobbies that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lost in a sea of information. As a result, we often start many projects but never finish them. We become what I like to call “The Wayward”.
“Wayward”: Stormy Seas and a Distracted Mind
The Wayward are creative people who have a hard time finishing anything. They’re always starting new projects, but they never seem to finish any of them. This can be frustrating for both the Wayward and those around them.
If you’re someone who often starts new hobbies but never seems to finish them, it’s important to take a step back and assess your priorities. What is it that you really want to accomplish? What are your goals?
Once you have a clear understanding of what you want, it will be easier to focus your attention on a single project.
The Power of “No”: Why Breaking the Habit of “Yes” is Worth it!
We’ve all been there before. You’re presented with an opportunity, but it’s not quite what you’re looking for. But you don’t want to say no, because you don’t want to seem difficult or uncooperative. So you go along with it, even though you’re not really happy about it. But later on, you always end up regretting it. Why is that?
Well, psychologists think that our need to be liked and accepted is so strong that it can override our better judgment (source). We don’t want to risk upsetting someone or making them think badly of us, so we say “yes” even when we really want to say “no”.
But here’s the thing: It turns out that saying no is actually very important. It allows us to set boundaries and keep our own sanity. When we say yes to things we don’t really want to do, it starts to erode our own sense of self-worth.
We start to believe that we’re not good enough, or that we’re not worth saying no to. As a result, we end up feeling used and taken advantage of.
In the end, saying no is a way of taking back control and asserting our own needs and wants. And while it may be difficult in the moment, it’s always better than regrets later on.
More Than Overwhelmed? Benefits to Saying “No”.
Anyone who has ever been asked to do something they really don’t want to do knows how difficult it can be to say no. Whether it’s a friend asking you to go out when all you want to do is stay in, or a co-worker asking you to take on an extra project, it can be tough to stand up for yourself.
However, there are benefits to saying no that go beyond just not feeling overwhelmed. When you say no to something, you’re also saying yes to taking care of yourself.
This can mean anything from taking the time to relax, to getting enough sleep, or even just taking a break from work. Additionally, learning to say no can help you set boundaries, both professionally and personally.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you have a friend who is always asking you to go out, even when you’re tired or don’t really feel like it. You may feel guilty saying no, but eventually you’ll start to resent your friend for taking up all of your free time.
On the other hand, if you learn to say no from the beginning, you can set a boundary with your friend. You can explain that you need some time for yourself, and that you’re not always going to be available to go out. This will help to preserve your friendship, rather than causing tension or resentment.
By setting boundaries and sticking to them, you’ll start to feel more in control of your life and your time. It also respects others’ but giving them your honest answer rather than just going along with something you don’t want to do.
Time is stressful: Don’t Think About It; Protect it
If you’re like most people, your time is probably pretty limited. You have a lot of things to do, and not a lot of time to do them. So when you’re presented with an opportunity, it can be tempting to just say yes and worry about it later.
However, this can often lead to overwhelm and regretted decisions. Instead, it’s important to learn to say no in order to preserve your time and energy.
When you say no, you’re able to focus your attention on the things that are truly important to you. You’re also able to avoid distractions and stay on track.
Additionally, research has shown that taking regular breaks actually makes you more productive, not less (source). So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s ok to say no in order to take a break.
In the end, preserving your time will make you more productive and content. It’s also a way of taking care of yourself and ensuring that you’re not spreading yourself too thin.
The Distracted Hobbyist…Pumping the Brakes
If you’re a hobbyist, then chances are you’ve said “yes” to a project or two that you really didn’t have time for. I mean in your head, you said to yourself “Sure, why not? Let’s try this <insert activity>.”
We all do it! But…It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time and effort that any task or project will take, especially when we’re excited about it. The tiny experiment you wanted to try ends up taking hours and hours.
Then, at the end, you find you got nothing done. The regret sets in because you could have used that time to actually move your project forward instead of distractedly fiddling around with a new idea.
What’s the takeaway here? Be honest with yourself about how much time you really have, and be realistic about what you can achieve. If you’re not sure, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and say no.
If you find yourself in this situation, over and over, it’s important to take a step back and assess your priorities. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is simply say no to the project/test/experiment, or even a mini-project request from someone else, perhaps.
This can be difficult, especially if you’re passionate about the hobby. Maybe you’ve made it part of your identity (a mistake, I think, and an article for another time).
However, it’s important to remember that your mental and physical health should always come first; especially when it comes to your hobbies. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s ok to say no and focus on what’s truly important to you.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or just plain stressed, then it’s time to take a break.
Tips for Saying No to Others (and Yourself)
It can be difficult to say no, especially if you’re a people pleaser or if you have a hard time setting boundaries. However, it’s important to learn to say no in order to preserve your time and energy.
Here are a few tips:
- Be assertive: This means using “I” statements and owning your decisions. For example, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.”
- Be direct: There’s no need to explain yourself or make excuses. Just say no.
- Offer an alternative: If you’re unable to do something, offer an alternative solution. For example, “I can’t do that right now, but I can do this instead.”
- Set boundaries: If you find yourself constantly saying yes to things you don’t want to do, it’s time to set some boundaries. Let people know what you’re willing and unable to do.
- Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself is important. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s ok to say no in order to take a break.
Saying no can be difficult, but it’s worth it in the end. There are benefits to saying no that go beyond just not feeling overwhelmed. Learning how to say no will make you happier and more productive. You’ll also be able to better manage your time and your relationships. It’s important to remember that saying no is not a bad thing — in fact, it can be a very good thing.
So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or stretched too thin, don’t be afraid to say no. Your mental and physical health will thank you for it.
Having problems turning down request to do things, or invasive thoughts or ideas that come from within that make you feel guilty for not doing more? You might be a “Wayward.”
Let me know in the comments below about how you handle it! I’d love to know!