Avoiding Distractions Is Key to a Successful Year

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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It’s hard to believe we’ve started another year with COVID-19 still in the headlines and on everyone’s mind. I’ve always felt that each year passes faster than expected, but the past two years seem to have flown by even faster than usual.

I’ve never kept track, but I don’t usually get sick very often. However, when I do get sick, it’s usually around the beginning of January. I remember spending New Year’s Eve at home and in bed no fewer than five times due to feeling ill. And I started both 2021 and 2022 with a coronavirus infection. Thankfully, I recovered quickly both times without too much interruption to my life.

That was particularly true this year, as my time in quarantine was both restful and productive. The silver lining of being sick with mild symptoms at the beginning of a new year is having more time and energy to think about goals and other things I want to accomplish. Being able to step out of the normal day-to-day routine allowed me time to identify habits and disciplines to help me with my goals for this year and years to come.

Although I’m often careful to be productive with my time, and I’m proud of the work I put into my life plan, I still found myself with too many distractions during quarantine, such as TV, social media, the game Risk, and other unimportant things. While I’m a strong believer in allowing time for relaxation and entertainment, trust me, there was no shortage of procrastination on my part.

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I’ve often thought, “Gosh, if I didn’t have to work 40 hours a week, I could get so much other stuff done.” There is some truth to this, but even toward the end of quarantine, I still found myself numbing out with TikTok videos and old episodes of “Law & Order: SVU.”

A couple times during my two weeks off from work I found myself wrestling with being simultaneously motivated to be productive and wanting to be lazy. When I recognized this tug-of-war going on inside me, I tried to think about the reasons behind it. This was my attempt to address any deep-rooted, hidden stressors or disappointments that perhaps I didn’t realize were holding me back. Thankfully, I didn’t come up with anything significant.

What I did discover is how easy it is for me to become distracted. Whether it’s a text message from a friend, a commercial on the radio, a headline in the news, or a notification on my phone, a thousand things grab my attention throughout the day.

In addition to the usual suspects, there’s also all the nuances and frustrations of Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), which can easily derail a train of thought or a plan of action. From stubbing my toe to spilling a cup of coffee, to close calls with falling, all are results of FA that can eat up my time and consume my energy.

While I can’t just “turn off” FA and remove the things that easily mess up my plans, I can turn off my phone, TV, and computer. In other words, while some distractions are unavoidable, others are well within my ability to avoid or mitigate.

Although I have a few new resolutions for 2022, I’m not necessarily focused on them as much as I have been in the past. Instead, I’ve identified a routine to help me accomplish my goals one day at a time. With a daily routine mapped out a bit more carefully than ever before, my attention is focused on that routine, and I’m guarded against distractions.

In focusing on my routine, I’ve already had to give myself the grace and courage to say no to extracurricular activities and lucrative extra work. I suppose I’m being a little more aware of and intentional about my priorities.

Interestingly, I stumbled upon a blog post last week from someone well-versed in the Enneagram personality test. High-performance coach Ryan Lui suggests that for 2022, people like me who are Type 1 should take more time for ourselves.

Distractions of all sorts will always come and go, but there’s no good excuse for letting them dictate everything we do.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Friedreich’s Ataxia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Friedreich’s ataxia.


Richard Poulin avatar

Richard Poulin

Your fear of not getting enough done and frustrations from distractions is shared by many including myself. I think it is a feature in our brain that secretly pushes us to do more because from an outside perspective you are doing so much! I also take heart in the Pareto 80/20 principle being applied to how work gets done. Having a routine means you are well on your way to having an even better year.

Sean Baumstark avatar

Sean Baumstark

Thank you for the comment and affirmation, Richard! I'm finding my current routine to be fantastic on paper but sometimes a challenge to follow in reality. However, knowing my ideal routine still helps me avoid most distractions and reminds me of the direction I want to go. So, you're right - my year is better thus far. Thank you for reading - I hope this is a great year for you, too!


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