Learn how to avoid distractions

June 7, 2020
Four strategies for becoming indistractable

Distraction is interrupting attention and stimulating to draw attention away from the task of primary interest.

If distraction becomes a habit, we are unable to sustain the focus required for creativity in our professional and personal lives.

Examples of distraction

  • Interrupting focused work to check email
  • Looking at notifications that pop up on your phone while talking with family, friends, or colleagues
  • Scrolling through your social media feeds when you planned to study or finish an activity
  • Chatting with coworkers who pop by your desk when you intended to do focused work

What we want on the opposite is traction. Any action that moves us towards what we really want.

Causes of distraction are internal and external triggers.

  • Internal triggers are cues from within us and are often negative feelings as being cold, hungry or stressed.
  • External triggers are cues from our environment that tell us what to do next. Television, other people or smart phone notifications.

Four strategies for becoming indistractable

1. Master internal triggers.

The root cause of human behavior is the desire to escape discomfort. Distraction, then, is an unhealthy escape from bad feelings. Once you can recognize the role internal triggers like boredom, loneliness, insecurity, fatigue, and uncertainty play in your life, you can decide how to respond in a healthier manner. You can’t control how you feel, but you can learn to control how you react to the way you feel.

2. Make time for traction.

Many people talk a good game about what’s important to them like their families, their health, and their friends, but when it comes to investing time in these areas of their lives, they get distracted and don’t follow through. They don’t live up to their values because they don’t make time for them in their day.

3. Hack back external triggers.

Examples are:

  • Remove the apps you no longer need.
  • Remove apps that you like, but that you can use on your computer instead.
  • Adjust your notification settings for each app.
  • Eliminate endless feeds.

4. Prevent distraction with pacts.

An effort pact is a kind of pre-commitment that involves increasing the amount of effort required to do something you don’t want to do. A price pact puts money on the line. If you stick to your intended behavior, you keep the cash. If you get distracted, you forfeit your funds. An identity pact is another way to change your response to distractions. Your self-image has a profound impact on your behavior. By taking on a new identity, you empower yourself to make decisions based on who you believe you are. 

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