- What Are Distractions in a Nutshell?
- Why Do We Get Distracted So Easily?
- The 2 Types of Distractions
- The Cost of Distraction
- How to Overcome Distractions
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- Oh 游读者 👋It’s nice to meet you.
When it comes to productivity, distractions can be a big problem. With so many different distractions in today’s world, staying focused on the task at hand can be difficult. When we switch between tasks, we lose up to 40% of our productive time because our brains have to adjust and refocus. On average, distractions result in daily time losses of 2.1 hours.
Some distractions are obvious, while others are subtler and more difficult to detect and manage. For instance, the majority of you are aware that our phones’ or computers’ notifications are a constant source of distraction, but are you also aware of how your stress or anxious thoughts affect your ability to concentrate?
This article will teach you everything you need to know about distractions so that you can overcome them and increase your productivity.
What Are Distractions in a Nutshell?
In a nutshell, anything that diverts our attention from the task we are currently working on is a distraction.
As defined in Merriam Webster Dictionary, “distraction” is:
Something that distracts : an object that directs one’s attention away from something else
Distractions can take many different forms. Among the most common distractions are:
- Electronic device notifications: Constantly receiving alerts from computers, smartphones, and other devices can be very distracting.
- 电子设备通知: 不断收到来自电脑、智能手机和其他设备的通知可能会让人分心。
- Social media: Using social media incessantly can be a major source of distraction.
- 社交媒体: 不断地使用社交媒体可能是分散注意力的主要来源。
- Email: Reading and responding to emails, especially if you do so frequently throughout the day, can be a significant source of distraction.
- 电子邮件: 阅读和回复电子邮件，特别是如果你经常这样做，可以是一个重要的分散注意力的来源。
It’s important to recognise that distractions are a natural part of life, and eliminating them completely isn’t always possible or desirable. Managing distractions and finding ways to stay focused, on the other hand, can help you improve your productivity and reach your goals.
Why Do We Get Distracted So Easily?
There are several reasons why we may become easily distracted:
1. Our Brains Are Hardwired to Be Distracted
In order to learn and adapt to our environment, our brains are made to actively seek out new information and stimuli. This is a critical component of human cognition.
According to the Neuro research on humans and macaque monkeys, rather than functioning continuously, our capacity for concentration is built to function in short bursts. We are distracted in between those bursts of attention. The brain pauses and scans the environment during those periods of distraction to see if there is anything outside the main focus of attention that might be more significant. If not, it will refocus on what you were doing.
This human instinct, however, can cause us to become easily distracted. For instance, when we are engaged in a task and hear a loud noise or see something intriguing, our brains may automatically switch our attention to the new stimulus. This can be especially difficult in today’s world, where so many sources of information and entertainment compete for our attention.
2. We Live in a World Full of Distractions
There are now more informational and entertainment resources than ever before available to us thanks to the spread of technology and the internet. This is both a blessing and a curse because it means that we have easy access to a variety of tools and pursuits that can aid in our education and development. But with so many options vying for our attention, it can also be challenging to remain concentrated on a single task.
A study found that different parts of our brain focus on the environment in various ways, and that the type of external stimulus even affects the frequency at which our brain waves pulse:
“Neural activity goes up and down in a regular periodic way, with everything vibrating together. It is faster for automatic stimuli and slower for things we choose to pay attention to.”
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Nearly 50% of Americans report feeling they “don’t have enough time these days.” Yet despite constantly feeling like there’s not enough time in the day, many continue to work long hours, sacrificing valuable time with friends and family in the hopes of finally catching up on their busy schedules…
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This means that when we are surrounded by distractions, it is more difficult for us to focus on what we need to focus on.
As an illustration, you might be tempted to check a notification on your phone while working on a project if you get one. It may be more difficult to get back into the flow of your work after being pulled away by this minor interruption. Similar to this, you might find yourself drawn to click on a news headline or social media post while working on a task if it catches your attention.
3. We Have a Short Attention Span
According to a 2010 Harvard study, the average person’s mind wanders 47% of the time, which means that you’re thinking about something else almost half the time you’re doing one thing.
Humans have a short attention span, so it’s normal for our attention to start to stray after a while. This is especially true if we are required to work without any breaks on a single task for an extended period of time.
For instance, if you are working on a task that demands a lot of concentration and you don’t take any breaks, you might find that after some time you are easily distracted. This may be brought on by a number of things, such as weariness, boredom, or merely the need for a change of scenery.
4. Most Of Us Have Poor Time Management Skills
Poor time management skills can lead to a lack of focus and productivity in several ways:
- Lack of clear priorities and goals: Without clear priorities and goals for your work, it can be challenging to maintain focus and avoid getting distracted by less important tasks.
- 缺乏明确的优先级和目标: 如果你的工作没有明确的优先级和目标，保持注意力集中和避免被不那么重要的任务分散注意力是很有挑战性的。
- Failing to allocate time effectively: Without a clear plan for how to divide up your time and resources, you may find yourself switching between tasks or getting stuck on less important ones.
- 不能有效地分配时间: 没有一个明确的计划如何分配你的时间和资源，你可能会发现自己在不同的任务之间切换，或陷入不太重要的任务。
- Procrastination: Procrastination is a major source of distraction because it keeps you from your work and makes it more challenging to get back to it.
- 拖延: 拖延是分散注意力的主要来源，因为它让你远离工作，让你回到工作中更具挑战性。
We can become easily distracted for a variety of reasons, all of which can be present at the same time. But we can sharpen our focus and increase productivity by identifying the sources of distraction and creating management strategies for them.
The 2 Types of Distractions
In order to successfully overcome distractions, we must first understand where distractions often come from. There are two kinds of distractions:
External distractions are those that come from outside of ourselves. Noise, interruptions, and other stimuli that pull us away from the task at hand are a few examples of external distractions.
External distractions include visual triggers, social interactions, sound, and technology. A few of these are:
- Phone calls
- Text messages
- Notifications on the phone
- Social media
Quick Action Item
- The quickest way to eliminate external distractions is to remove yourself from obvious distractions when you need to focus.
- For example, muting phone notifications, wearing noise-canceling headphones, closing the office door, blocking your schedule to prevent coworkers from interrupting you, and informing your family ahead of time that you will need to focus.
Internal distractions are the root of our distraction. They are distractions that originate within us rather than from outside sources. They are your own thoughts and emotions such as worries about important obligations or enjoyable activities you’d rather be doing; and negative feelings you have regarding the project you are working on.
Typical internal distractions include the following:
- Negative Thoughts: Worry, anxiety, or frustration are all examples of negative thoughts or emotions that can be distracting and make it difficult to concentrate.
- 消极思想: 担心、焦虑或沮丧都是消极思想或情绪的例子，它们会分散注意力，使人难以集中精力。
- Impulses: Impulses or desires, such as the need to check our phones or take a break, can divert us from our work.
- 冲动: 冲动或欲望，如需要检查我们的手机或休息，可以转移我们从我们的工作。
- Daydreaming: It can be difficult to focus when our thoughts start to stray and we begin to consider matters unrelated to the task at hand.
- 白日梦: 当我们的思绪开始游离，我们开始考虑与手头任务无关的事情时，我们很难集中注意力。
Internal distractions are linked to our natural instinct to avoid discomfort. We, as humans, are motivated by freedom from discomfort rather than punishment and reward. When we are in physical or mental distress, we naturally seek ways to alleviate it.
These discomforts and escapes can take many forms, such as:
- The reality of marriage problems and the escape provided by video games
- The reality of work stress and Netflix binges as the escape
- 现实的工作压力和 Netflix 狂欢作为逃避
- The reality of a difficult task and the escape of doing house chores when you work from home
- The reality of tough life and the escape of social media scrolling
As a result, these escapes become our distractions.
Quick Action Item
- There is usually a trigger that causes you to switch to a distraction activity. Determine the trigger and how you feel at the time.
- Instead of allowing your emotions to control your actions, sit with them for 5 minutes and avoid getting caught up in the wrong activity during that time.
- Then start breaking down the challenge into smaller tasks that you can tackle right away.
The Cost of Distraction
Distractions are the number one killer of productivity. A person is distracted every 11 minutes on average, and it takes at least 25 minutes to regain optimal focus. That means you’re wasting six out of every eight hours of your day to distractions.
Here are some more startling statistics:
- On a personal level, distractions have an impact on our performance:在个人层面上，分心会对我们的表现产生影响:
- 54% aren’t performing as well as they are supposed to;
- 54% 的人没有表现得像他们应该表现的那样好;
- 50% are significantly less productive;
- 50% 的人生产力明显较低;
- 20% are unable to reach their full potential or advance in their careers.
- 20% 的人无法充分发挥自己的潜力或在职业生涯中取得进步。
- On an organizational level, distractions cause company loss:在组织层面上，分心会导致公司亏损:
- 45% reported compromised quality of work
- 45% 的人认为工作质量受到了影响
- 30% reported lower morale as a result of other employees having to pick up the slack
- 30% 的受访者表示，由于其他员工不得不替他们收拾烂摊子，导致他们士气低落
- 25% reported a negative impact of boss/employee relationship
- 25% 的受访者表示，老板和员工之间的关系对他们产生了负面影响
- 24% reported missed deadlines
- 24% 的人报告错过了截止日期
- 21% reported a revenue loss
- 21% 报告收入损失
Distractions can significantly reduce productivity, efficiency, and even safety. The cost of distraction, for instance, can be potential harm or even death when operating machinery or while driving a car.
Furthermore, distractions can contribute to a less fulfilling life. Since distractions make it difficult to stay focused on the things that are most important to you, you may find yourself wasting time on tasks or activities that do not contribute to your long-term goals or overall well-being.
For example, you could spend hours scrolling through social media or engaging in other activities that are enjoyable in the moment but have no long-term value. On the contrary, focusing on jobs and pursuits that are worthwhile and advance your goals and general well-being can improve your life.
- Consider how many hours of time and energy you waste each day.
- Now multiply those hours by the number of weeks and months.
- Consider where you spend the majority of your time.
How to Overcome Distractions
You cannot control every distraction; some distractions are truly urgent. Sometimes you do have to take care of unexpected things but 90% of them aren’t really that urgent or important.
你不能控制每一个干扰; 有些干扰是真正紧急的。有时候你确实需要处理一些意想不到的事情，但是90% 的事情并不是那么紧急或重要。
Most people choose to be distracted subconsciously and allow the distraction to take them away from what they’re trying to focus on.
That’s right, you can choose to be distracted. That means you have control over distractions.
Distractions are a reflection of an internal conflict within you. They are a reflection of something your mind is still debating. Things tempt you away from it and compete for your attention because your mind hasn’t fully committed.
I’ll give you an example:
Consider the last time you needed to pee urgently… when you were completely focused on finding the bathroom. I’m sure those urgent emails and messages could wait. In fact, you were probably so focused on it that it was difficult to divert your attention away from it.
想想上次你急着尿尿的时候… … 当你全神贯注于找厕所的时候。我相信那些紧急邮件和短信可以等等。事实上，你可能是如此专注于它，以至于很难将你的注意力从它身上转移开。
What is the deciding factor? There was no doubt about it. Your mind, your body —- were completely dedicated to answering nature’s call.
However, this was a decision made by your subconscious mind. Consider bringing this decision to the forefront on a daily basis and proactively activating this type of focus.
The real key is how to use the distraction to reach into your mind so you can commit to a decision easily without a doubt. In short, use each distraction to strengthen your focus.
To learn more, check out my focus-boosting guide: How to Focus And Stay Sharp (A Comprehensive Guide)
We can be easily distracted for a variety of causes, and each person will have different reasons why they are distracted. The root cause of all distractions, however, is within us, which includes negative thoughts and mental discomforts that cause us to want to escape reality.
Distractions can have a significant impact not only on productivity but also on our life fulfilment by making it difficult to focus on tasks and goals that are truly important to us.
To overcome distractions and find focus, you must first identify the sources of your distractions and then take steps to strengthen your focus.
Featured photo credit: Nubelson Fernandes via unsplash.com
图片来源: Nubelson Fernandes via unsplash.com