Updated: Apr 14
A Habit for Mindless Distractions
I’m in the middle of creating a PowerPoint for an upcoming presentation and my younger sister calls.
I pull myself away to answer the phone, but that only lasts momentarily, before I begin checking my emails. Splitting my attention, between our conversation and emails without even noticing.
I close my emails and pull myself back into the conversation. Although again only minutes later I find myself browsing the web!! Has this ever happened to you? Engaging in mindless distractions when you should be focused on one? Multitasking, while on the phone.
Scrolling through Instagram, during a webinar. Answering a text, while mid-conversation with someone. That last one really ticks me off. But it’s no better than checking my emails while on the phone with my sister. And it’s not that our conversation wasn’t interesting. But these days I’ve noticed myself dividing my focus between activities.
Why has it become so difficult to stay concentrated on one thing at a time?
As great as it’s been growing up in the digital age, it does have its drawbacks. Technology has created expectations to respond at all times of the day and made it easy to let small things pass us by.
The era of sharing everything has connected the world like never before through Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. But living in a fast-paced online environment, we’re continually trying to catch up, because it keeps evolving.
The devices in our pockets have provided a network for relentless distraction and stimulation. Forming larger barriers to social interaction, than the connections they were created to make.
The exponential growth of technology has made us less social than more, no matter how many Facebook friends you might have.
These pressures have had adverse consequences on our health. With only so many big milestones to celebrate, what happens when you forget to relish the small wins?
Millennials, in particular, are suffering from depression and anxiety at a greater ratio than any other generation due to perfectionist pressures. Always striving to become better has made burnout and stress-related issues a norm.
When your automatic choices begin to be detrimental to your health and happiness, you can longer rely on them. Isolated and alone, it’s easier to resort to mindless distractions than look around and engage in a conversation with a stranger.
Developing a habit of spending unconscious time on mindless distractions has created a need for more conscious living.
Ah!! But what can we do?
In a connected society, we have to be intentional with the time we spend on distractions. Learning to become present with what we’re doing in the moment. Technology is not a bad thing when used properly. Avoiding splitting your attention by focusing on one thing.
Paying attention and contributing to the online meeting you’re in. Actively listening to the conversation you’re having – in person or on the phone. Working on one task at a time and completing it, before moving onto the next. Become self-aware when you engage in mindless distractions and look towards dedicating conscious time to what you’re doing.
Here are 4 techniques that you can implement to practice avoiding mindless distractions:
Meditate: Learn to let your thoughts come and go rather than suffocate your mind. Begin with something as short as a couple minutes of deep breathing.
Pomodoro Technique: Use this productivity hack to increase your focus on a task. Blocking outside distractions will raise your awareness and productivity drastically.
Practice Gratitude: Place a journal or piece of paper next to your bed and write down 3 things you’re grateful for each day. Use it as a reminder to stop and enjoy the small joys in your day.
High-Intensity Exercise: When your heart rate is beating at 80% capacity; it’s difficult to focus on anything but the exercise you are doing.
Do you find yourself engaging in mindless distractions out of habit, rather than a conscious choice?
If you always reach for your phone when you stand in line, what would happen if you stopped yourself and just stood in line?
Try and leave your phone in a drawer, when you’re working on a task. Close down your computer when talking on the phone. Eat lunch away from your desk and socialize with others in your household/office.
Or use one of the 4 strategies above to create more self-awareness.
Whatever you choose, the goal is to develop greater awareness around the habit for mindless distractions. Don’t look to change anything at first but rather discover how frequently it occurs and go from there.