You’ve made up your mind:

Today is going to be different.

This is the day you’ll begin focusing on the important priorities, the ones you never seem to have time to take care of. So you organize your schedule, plan a menu for the week, make a grocery list, pack your gym bag, and then. . .

The phone rings. It’s your second cousin and she wants to talk about the family reunion next year. It won’t take long, she promises.

An hour later, you end the call and check your watch. You can get back on schedule if you start right now.

But then a text arrives, and you decide to answer it. After all, it will only take a minute.

Whoops, there’s that email you’ve been waiting for. But it’s not the information you asked for. You’ll have to spend a few minutes on a reply, explaining the problem, describing your previous conversations with customer service, and what needs to be done to correct the situation.

As you finish the email, you wonder if your friends made it to that new restaurant last night. You decide to take a quick look on Facebook.

And while you’re at it, you check Twitter and Instagram, too.

It’s nearly noon and you realize you won’t be able to get everything done on your list. Something will have to wait, pushed aside to another day.

You start to shut down your browser, but not before a pop-up ad offers a flashy dose of body-image propaganda — a new diet program promising to make you smarter, stronger, thinner, richer, prettier, healthier — better than you are right now.

You make a mental note to check it out later, to make up for the fact you no longer have time to go to the gym.

Cell phones, computers, tablets, smart watches — all common elements of our digital existence. And all loaded with distractions.

Add the constant noise from TV sitcoms, the new mini-series, drama fests, and other brain-sucking filler, and it’s no wonder most of us walk around hypnotized by commercials for fast-food, life-enhancing pharmaceuticals, and a stream of Google ads promoting products and services from the last dozen websites we visited.

Which brings us to the question:

Is it really that important to constantly be “plugged in” and follow what’s going on everywhere, with everyone, every minute of the day?

Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram want to convince us that it is.

Collectively, these five companies want us to believe that spending time staring at our phones and computer screens is more important than pursuing our personal goals, spending time with friends, and taking care of our health.

Ready to stop the madness?

Aside from ditching all electronic devices and going off the grid (which sounds pretty good to me on some days), here are a few ideas to consider:

1. Know your interests and stay with them.

Focus on those areas, activities, people, and groups that inspire and motivate you.

And if you find your interests have faded or no longer fulfill you, cut them loose and open your life — and your schedule — to new possibilities.

2. Commit to pursuing your goals.

If your attention is constantly being diverted, you may lose track of your purpose. And all that time you spent chasing rabbits? Gone, never to be relived.

3. Just say no to those who are determined to define your priorities.

If others insist on controlling your life, ask yourself how much energy and time you’re willing to give up to enable another’s agenda or dream.

4. Get real about your time.

Stop wasting valuable moments with empty, unnecessary, and energy-sapping distractions. Here’s the reality:

You can’t recapture the past. The clock has moved forward — and so have you.

Choose how to live your present moments every day — starting now!

Previously published on Medium