“An addiction to distraction is the end to your creative production.” – Robin Sharma
Did you know that distraction is the biggest addiction? Yes, it’s the most significant addiction to which people have fallen prey. Let’s understand the meaning of distraction, “that which distracts, divides the attention, or prevents concentration”. Is this your current situation too?
Let us understand what distraction really means and its impact on your life with a few examples. The biggest distraction in life, in the current age of technology, is the device called the “Smart Phone”. The notifications and messages are the most significant forms of distraction on it. The condition has become such that, the phone is SMART, not the person using it, in most of the cases. The addiction towards this device is making people “dumb” in the long run. Nowadays smartphones have reached even the hands of students and small kids. It’s usage has formed an addiction of sorts, even at this very early age. A study by King’s College London, has shown that, 1 in 4 kids, of the age of 10, are already addicted to these devices. And 93% of kids, by the age 14, own one of these devices. The study further states that the notifications from social media and personal or group messaging tools are the most significant form of distraction in kids. Due to this, the attention span or focused study time is reducing.
Now let’s talk about a situation at the workplace. Along with the smartphones, notifications on your laptops from various tools (emails, chat messengers), gossips and too many pointless meetings are the most prominent form of distractions. As a result of this, you are practising distraction day in day out.
So, what is the impact of this practice? You are becoming an expert in distraction and less productive or creative at work. What will happen if you practice swimming for 5 -6 hours every day for the next one year? It’s obvious, you start becoming an expert in swimming. If you continue the same practice for a more extended period, you become a champion. This is what is happening in most of our lives; people are becoming champions in distraction.
So what is the solution to reduce distraction? The answer is simple, practice Focus. As mentioned earlier practice makes you a champion. If you try lowering distraction, you may never succeed. But by practising focus, you for sure will be a champion in it. The next question is, how do we practice focus? Here are a few simple steps you could practice.
Meditation: Practice meditation for at least 5 minutes every day, starting today. Meditation will help exercise your brain muscle by practising focusing on one specific thing. The best for beginners is concentrating on the breath for 5 minutes each day, once in the morning to start with and, once more, before going to bed, after a few days of doing the morning meditation. It’s not an easy task to hold your focus on your breath for 5 minutes; your mind will start to wander around, it is normal. Whenever your mind wanders, bring the attention back to your breath. Practice this for a while, and the distractions will reduce. If you start to see the benefit, suggest increasing time spent on meditation.
Deep time: Have at least two 30 minute slots in a day, where you are completely focused on something you love doing or on things you want to get done. In these 30 minutes, you will lock yourself out from all distractions. For example, if you are a student and want to focus on a topic which you feel needs a lot of attention, you could lock yourself in a room, without a phone, a laptop (if possible), etc. You should tell everyone in the family not to disturb you at this time. You should put all your focus and energy on that one task in hand. The results are sure and for your benefit. If you are employed, you could do this by blocking a room or using a desk where there is less distraction. Keep away from distraction from people around you and especially gossips. Focus on that one task you want to complete, and in turn, this will also help in being more creative in the task you are working on.
Social media time: As per the research by various institutes, this is the biggest addiction currently, in humans, worse than even drug addiction. As I had mentioned in the earlier article, practice to stay away from social media (phone or computer) for the first and last hour of the day. Instead of having a social media-free time, the recommendation is to have a social media time of 30 mins. A dedicated 30 mins to an hour every day. Other than this time, you should not be distracted by social media. Even more important is to stick to the decided time dedicated (30 mins or an hour) for social media in a day. Switch off the notifications when in office or when on essential tasks.
One task at a time: If you are a multitasking master, then you are practising distraction. Stop multitasking and start to work or focus on one thing at a time. This will help with full attention on the task you are working on, and in turn, it will help you to come up with innovative and creative ideas.
Increase Attention: Everyday begin practicing to focus, on one thing for one complete minute, to begin with. For example, just keep staring at something; let’s say a plant, for one whole minute without any thought in mind. Maybe just observing the plant. You could do this with anything of your interest (Obviously, no phone or computer 😊). Nature will be best to watch. If you can build the focus of one minute without any distraction, increase it all the way to 5 mins in a day. Feel the difference for yourself, in what you do through the day.
Practising to focus is not easy, but for sure easier than removing distractions. How long will you keep removing distractions, instead you should start practising on how to focus. Anything we practice daily becomes a habit and habits can change the way you lead your life.
Try practising on how to focus, for a month and see the difference for yourself. This has personally helped me organise my day better, my reading habits have improved, I am more focused on the task at hand, when I am at work etc.
Do leave a comment if you too find this is making a difference for you.