Taking Control of My Attention

I practiced yesterday with some actual quality for the first time in a long time. The magic? I plugged my phone in elsewhere. 

My phone is full of apps to help me practice better. I have a tuner/metronome app I deeply love (Tunable), a nifty snippet-recorder (Clipza), and of course my basic voice and video recorders. I have drones and I have an app that will slow down or speed up a recording I’m listening to and one that will play ME back in slow motion. I love being able to quickly translate foreign terms I don’t know. My phone and the internet are valuable and useful. 

But the addiction is real. If my phone is nearby, I can’t resist the urge to see what’s happening in my inbox. I find myself scrolling Facebook with no actual purpose, for a SHOCKINGLY long time. I’m obsessed with a couple of games – the kind where if I let my mind wander I’m three rounds in before I even realize I’ve picked up the device. 

But yesterday I walked away from the phone, on purpose, and loved the oboe again.  I enjoyed some charming etudes, I covered the music for my concert this weekend, and I lost myself in an interesting technical snarl in an interesting piece I’m working on. I found myself fully focused, and deeply dug into problem-solving on the instrument, just like in the olden days before my phone was a magical wonderland of distraction. 

Do you know what else happened when I put my phone away for an hour? NOTHING. I didn’t miss anything of any importance at all, and my inbox and my Facebook and my games were all there waiting for me. 

I know this, right? I know that I get better work done without distractions, I know that I don’t need a device attached to my hand at all times, I know that I can DO better and BE better when I take control of my attention. This is not new news. 

But the reminder was helpful. I loved my work yesterday. I’m going to do it again today. And I’m sharing this little story because maybe you could use the reminder too.