By Rachel Williams
Distinguished Young Woman of New Mexico for 2011

When I was in high school, distraction meant taking a nap, checking my Facebook on the family computer, watching TV, or hanging out with my friends. I thought I was distracted then. Goodness, how things have changed.
In college, distractions seem almost impossible to avoid because you find yourself cornered by an environment that is the embodiment of distraction! From your laptop, to the local cinema, to something as seemingly harmless as a long-board ride across campus with a friend. Distractions are everywhere. Even while writing this blog I’m getting distracted!
So, what are MY biggest distractions, you ask? 
1. Facebook  
No big surprise there. I love catching up with all of my Distinguished Young Women ladies, sharing pictures with family members, and just talking with friends about dinner plans. Facebook can be a very useful tool, but it can also be a major distraction.
2. Pinterest
I’ve known about Pinterest for quite some time now, but I never knew how awesome it was until about two months ago. I love seeing what other people like while also finding things that I enjoy. I can easily waste hours upon hours on this website.
3. Letters to Crushes
Have you ever heard of this site? I just happened across it one day and I am obsessed (I’ve even written a few letters myself). Whenever I am having a tough time with relationships or I just want to read a cute story, this is the site I go to. I lose way too much sleep because of this website.
4. I Waste So Much Time
Another website that may be kind of obscure to you all, iwastesomuchtime.com. Though, just as the name implies, I do waste so much time laughing at all of the humorous pictures. I mean I literally laugh out loud. 
Okay, so aside from being distracted on my computer, (which is where the majority of my distractions originate) I can be easily sidetracked by my friends inviting me to go to the dining hall, the bookstore, or insert place on campus here. Of course, I am still distracted by naps, that one will never go away I’m afraid.

So how do we manage to avoid being distracted? 

Self-control– and we have to embrace it.
With regard to websites, there is no way you can lock yourself out of them, so self-control is really the only answer. If you’re doing work that doesn’t require your computer, I would say close ‘er up and shove ‘er in a drawer somewhere. Out of sight out of mind is what I always say. If you need to use your computer, set up time slots where you buckle down and do your work for a solid hour. Then give yourself a 5-to-10-minute break so you can look over Facebook, Twitter, or what-have-you.

When it comes to friends as distractions, you have to have self-discipline. Organize your time so you can get your work done, and then enjoy your friends. It is critical that you tell your friends that you are buckling down. They should respect your decision.

Remember, if these websites and other things are important for your happiness, make sure you understand the appropriate time to be distracted by them—ultimately when they aren’t actually being “distracting.”
You have to know what you want, and you have put yourself in the state of mind that you are going to get there. Only you can do it. I mean really, you can’t count on other people to reach your goals for you, can you?

Happiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions.
-Saul Bellow
Rachel Williams is a college freshman at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico majoring in International Studies. Originally from Kirtland, New Mexico, Rachel was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Mexico for 2011. Learn more about Rachel here!

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