It’s a busy day at work. You are working with both hands when suddenly you receive a phone call from an old friend. A 30-minute congenial conversation later, you realise you have lost your focus. You can’t recall the last thought before you hit the green icon to take the call. You decide to take help from a colleague, but the conversation gets steered away from the problem at hand to office politics. And when you finally come back to your desk, it’s time for the lunch break. And before you know it, the rhythm and focus with which you were working vanish into thin air of distraction.
Any work that requires focus, demands a distraction-free environment. Unfortunately, unless you are a freelancer or have the freedom to work remotely, it’s wishful thinking.
No environment is immune to distractions. Even if you were an astronaut working from the International Space Station, distractions would be far and wide—presumably, it’s not easy to focus when your window overlooks the earth and billions of stars glittering in the black velvet.
Here’s the thing with distractions. You can’t control them. You can only control your response to every stimulus in your environment that threatens to steal your attention. Everything around you is made to attract and hold your attention. Your smartphone and the apps it carries, the temperature of your room, the weather. Then there are sources of distractions that exist within—thoughts, emotions, pain. All of these stand as walls between you and your productivity. To bring these walls down, here are a few tips and perspectives that can keep your focus sharp and distractions at bay.
Put a leash on the internet
Most of your work happens on the internet. While it helps you become more efficient, the internet can also create a wave of distraction to derail you from your task. Social media and video-sharing platforms, shopping portals, restaurant aggregators—the internet has everything to throw you off. They can easily wash away your focus if you don’t keep a leash on these platforms that are designed to keep you hooked.
Here’s a perspective to understand what is on stake when you give in to the distracting world of the internet. In 2005, Dr Glenn Wilson at London’s Institute of Psychiatry found in her research that distraction—due to phone calls and emails—can lower our IQ by 10 units.
When it comes to the internet, there is no source of distraction more dangerous and severe. Ironically, you can kill the distraction caused by the internet using the internet. There are many trackers you can download that can help you keep tabs on your social media consumption. You can also make a list to study your patterns, which apps distract you the most, and how much time you spend on them. By doing so, you can get a circumspect view of your behaviour and what changes you need to bring to circumvent the distractions.