How To Overcome Distractions
Our ability to focus on what we choose, when we want to, is the most important factor in our ability to maximise our capabilities in many facets of life.
Too many of us are wasting time on unproductive distractions, dealing with more stress and anxiety because we are losing the ability to focus every day. Buddhists call it not being able to control the wandering “monkey mind”.
Overcoming Distractions – The Drug Dealer In Your Pocket
Recent studies suggest that our reliance on digital technology is the main reason the monkey mind is wandering more today than it ever has. In the current ‘always on’ climate we are rarely in the present moment, focused on just one task for long enough to get the best out of ourselves. Instead, we are constantly distracted by the incoming alerts or checking our phones, messages and social media feeds.
This is because the ‘ping’ of a notification is irresistible. It triggers a dopamine response in our brain – the same neurotransmitter in our brain that’s activated by class A drugs. It’s addictive!
Scientists are hired by companies such as Facebook specifically to develop algorithms to keep us clicking, watching and swiping for as long as possible. How many times do you start a task, see or hear a notification, and then spend 5-10 minutes away from the task we were doing before we realise it?
The True Impact of Being Distracted
We are spending more and more time being impulsive and less time being intentional. The effect of it is negatively impacting our ability to focus with every minute we spend doing so, and it’s even worse for our children’s developing brains.
Each time we are pulled out of one task into another requires re-focus to get back to where we were this has a cognitive price to be paid in the effectiveness of our brain. Studies suggest that we are losing up to 40% of our productivity due to the time lost switching in and out of tasks throughout the day.
Time is the most precious and non-renewable utility we have. To live a productive and successful life requires being focused. The more complex and demanding the task, the more our ability to focus will be a factor in our success.
Focus can be trained like any other skill. The brain and mind are like a muscle and every day we have the opportunity to make it stronger. But only if we become aware of how distractible we are by the technology we love!
2 Critical Tools To Improve Focus and Productivity
If enhanced focus is something we want, mindfulness is the vehicle to get there. Just like we do reps at the gym to build our muscles, mindfulness practice is about doing reps to build our attention muscle. When we notice our mind has wandered or got lost in thought – we bring our attention back to an anchor, usually our breath. The action of bringing our attention back builds our focus muscle. When we do this regularly we consistency strengthen our ability to pay attention, avoid distractions and improve our focus.
The Pomodoro Technique
Ever sat at your desk for hours on end trying to get something done and felt completely frazzled and unable to execute on anything effectively? Our brain’s optimum focus time is around 25 minutes, so work with this to give yourself the best chance of remaining focused! Work in 25 minute chunks with 5 minute breaks in between. This is called The Pomodoro technique and If you want to try this, use our guided Pomodoro sessions in the Mindset Boosts section of our Pocket Mentor app.
Focus Is A Superpower In A Distracting World
These tools are taken from the Focus module our Thriver Programme, the mental fitness toolkit empowering you to thrive in the challenges of life so you can be more resilient, confident and happy. If you’ve like to find out more, send us the message THRIVER below.