Avoid being distracted

11. Jan 2018

Let’s start with this well known quote:

Nothing is worth if you are not happy.

~ Unknown

As you probably agree with that, it is less probable you are aware that your happiness is determined by how and where you pay your attention. Just three sentences, and we clearly see how distraction raises on its importance.

Distraction

You can maximize you happiness by allocating yours attention optimally. Unfortunately, most of us are far (way) away from the optimum. The problem emanates from the fact that we get distracted from paying attention to our experiences.

Distraction comes from an internal disruption, such as intrusive thoughts what you will do over Sunday or whether you fed your cat or not; but also from external stimuli, such as people or mobile phone notifications.

Procrastination

There is also another well known friend of ours, procrastination. Procrastination and distraction go hand in hand. Even worse, distraction causes procrastination when stimuli other then the task at hand get in the way of getting it done.

In these days of internet addiction, it’s far more easier to get distracted of what you are doing, and through procrastination fall your attention to a news feeds of social media.

Just try image a situation you most likely know. You work on something which must be done; as you are working, your feeling of disgust raises over time; as it finally results in pseudo-decision to take a break. You take your mobile phone and scroll over social media news feeds. It might seem useful or worthy to get some news, jokes, taking a little break. But it’s not a break. Taking a break is deliberately chosen to happen. Instead, such a distraction comes with huge cost (to pay).

Distraction cost

Distraction is damaging because you have to pay “switching cost”. Every time you shift your attention, your brain has to reorient itself. Switching cost is how much attentional energy you have to change from one task to another [1]. When you interrupt yourself to tweet, read social media news, or email, you are using attentional energy to switch tasks.

So such a distraction cost makes you less happy and also results in less productivity. Shall I continue?

Victims of distraction

You probably heard about attention deficit disorder. Our world making us (we making us) victims of attention distraction. We are always needed to deal with the danger of distraction. The modern age is constantly making us more and more addicted to checking emails, checking social media of updates of your virtual friends. Doctors and researchers warn about “digital dementia”. Internet addiction was recently suggested to be a major contribution to mental disorders.

Avoid distraction

Distraction is attentional thief and so you should look out to keep the thief out, by erecting barriers from being distracted. In general, you should focus on what you are doing rather than looking for a mental escape. When you are in flow of experience, you become completely absorbed, even losing track of time, hunger, or thirst [2]. Think about when you become engaged in a good movie for example: time passes really quickly. If you are purposefully engaged, attention is directed only to what you are doing.

To make online distraction less we have built this calm part of our bespoke Oli technology to help you with:

  • Schedule what you want to read and read summary of all at once - before you decide to what you shift your attention.
  • Throw long emails to Oli and get summary - before you decide to shift your attention.
  • Get more space in your life.

A tiny note before you go: If you can not change what you do, then change what you pay attention to in the experience.

References:
[1] Meiran N., Chorev Z., Sapir A. Component processes in task switching.
[2] Czikszenthmihalay M. Flow: The psychology of optimal experience.


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