The article was originally published on HelloRaderCo.com
When we get sucked into our email, social media, or shopping, it's often an impulse or habit. We're encouraged by technology's ability to lure us in with never-ending feeds, clickbait headlines, and a feel-good dopamine response we can't ignore.
When we purposely divert our attention to Instagram, LinkedIn, The New York Times, or even our email is it a distraction since we are doing it intentionally?
If we choose to binge Netflix or scroll through Amazon reviews, we're intentionally doing it. Netflix isn't turning itself on. Amazon isn't forcing us to continue reading. That episode ends and it's SOOOO easy to start another one. The friction is almost non-existent.
D-i-s-t-r-a-c-t-i-o-n moves us away from a goal. Traction moves us closer to it.
Some scenarios to consider:
- The Amazon truck pulled up outside.
- The instant messaging app screams at me because my company won't let us use Do Not Disturb.
- Someone knocked on the door to the phone booth at my co-working space.
Something (typically outside my control) happened that prevented me from giving my full attention to something else. What is that?... a distraction.
Often, we own our distractions. We have the game on our phones, don't set limits for social media, and refuse to put up a Do Not Disturb sign when we're in Deep Focus mode. We're unwilling to create an environment where the things in our control are limited.
If you're finding ways to sabotage yourself on a task, you need to ask yourself what is so hard about that task that's causing you to avoid it.
For me, it's way too easy to get sucked into my Inbox, so I use Inbox Pause and I don't see new emails except when I unpause my Inbox. I use Freedom to prevent me from going to LinkedIn whenever I think of something I want to check. Like parental controls (but for me), it restricts my access during the times I set. Instead, I control my visits by keeping a running list and going to LinkedIn only 1-2 times daily.
Is your behavior interfering with your goals? Questions to ask yourself
1. What can I do to stop that impulse?
- Do I need to install an app that physically blocks me from it? (like Freedom)
- Do I need to create a door hanger or sign?
- Do I need to force myself to wait 5 minutes before succumbing to food cravings?
2. Do I know what I'm even distracted from?
Eir Eyal writes in his book Indistractable, "You can’t call something a distraction unless you know what you are distracted from." The next time you spend more minutes on something than you would have liked, think about how that is your real intention and what are you hiding from.
3. How would I approach that scenario differently next time?
Next time I will...
- Have an action plan.
- Remove that distraction.
- Give my attention to traction!
Distractions have a massive cost in the workplace.
Distractions and interruptions throughout the workday can really add up.
Refocusing your efforts on the task after just one interruption can take, on average, 23 minutes, according to Gloria Mark, Chancellor's Professor Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Attention Span.
An average knowledge worker gets 150 emails daily. Of which 70% are read within 6 seconds! That means, if we do the math, we spend 20% of our workday checking emails and recovering!
Are we actually getting work done or just reacting to distractions?
Training can help
There are many ways to manage distractions at work. Employees can benefit from training and tools to help manage those distractions, actually focus, and be productive. It's time to rethink what productivity looks like and put steps in place to achieve it for real.
Where do you want to give your intention now?