I am struggling to focus these days, especially since the board exams have been postponed and I cannot gather up the discipline or the motivation to get back to study, So I decided to shut down my phone and keep it away so that I don’t get distracted, and as it happened when I began to study, I felt hungry, I wanted to eat something, then I had this urgent work, then something else came up, long story short, I just came up with different distractions to indulge in even though all my devices were away, so this question popped up in my head, is social media the cause of distraction, or is it me, is something inside me that is making me distracted.
So, I started with the basics, I asked myself
What is the opposite of distraction?
Focus? No, that’s incorrect, the opposite of distraction is not focus, its traction, to explain it in simpler terms, imagine a line dividing an area into two parts, towards the left are the activities, that take you towards your goal(traction), towards the right are the activities that take you away from your goal(distraction).
So social media cant be the reason for my distraction because if you take a look at human behavior, every action we take is to avoid some sort of discomfort, we procrastinate a task because we are trying to avoid the discomfort of doing that task, Similarly, my distraction was more of an internal issue rather than the social media. Even when we were kids, you might have noticed yourself, opening up the fridge door often for no reason, why?, this was the example of trying to avoid discomfort, and this was the case with me too, I was doing all those stuff to avoid the discomfort of studying,
The more and more I got aware of when I was trying to avoid discomfort, the better I was able to lean into that discomfort and not procrastinate, so If you want to get back on track or just maintain or elevate your productivity, here are the three triggers you need to be aware of
- Internal Trigger
- External Triggers
- Planning Problem
This is the feeling of discomfort you feel when you sit down to do something important, the small clutching sensation when you know you have to do something difficult. The resistance that stops you from starting your work.
This is all the pings and dings, the notifications that pull your attention towards your smartphones and other devices.
If you have nothing planned for an hour and you watch cat videos on YouTube, that’s not being distracted, that’s a planning problem, you cannot be distracted when you don’t know what you are distracted from.
HOW TO YOU CONQUER THIS DISTRACTION?
Here is a Tool which I made for you to track and battle your distractions, The distraction Tracker.
This distraction tracker has worked for me, and this is the tool that aims to conquer distractions by awareness, you won’t take all your distractions out in a day but over time you would be more aware of your behavior patterns which will help you stay productive and happy in the long term.
As and when you have a trigger, open up your distraction tracker, and note down how you are feeling, what type of trigger is it, and how do you plan to deal with that distraction at that moment.
Here are some ideas to deal with distraction at that moment,
ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)
A form of therapy, ACT prescribes the method of stepping back, noticing, observing and finally letting the desire disappear naturally,
“an endless cycle of resisting, ruminating, and finally giving in to the desire perpetuates the cycle and quite possibly drives many of our unwanted behaviors”
So, get curious about the triggers you feel, do your fingers twitch when you are about to get distracted, do you feel a flurry of butterflies when you think about play while you are at work? Here what the revered ACT psychologist Jonathan Bricker advises you to do,
“One of my favorite techniques is the leaves on a stream method. When feeling the uncomfortable internal trigger to do something you’d rather not, ‘imagine you are seated beside a gently flowing stream, he says. “Then imagine there are leaves floating down that stream. Place each thought in your mind on each leaf. It could be a memory, a word, a worry, an image. And let each of those leaves float down that stream, swirling away, as you sit and just watch? “
SURFE THE URGE
If the desire gets too intense, try surfing the urge, which means, make a pact with yourself, that If I feel the same after 10 mins, I will do it, and most probably, you would have forgotten about it, and if you still have that desire, great! , get up and do it…
and as you keep using this distraction tracker, you would have a large collection of behavior analysis of yourself, so when the next time you fall into a productivity slump, you have enough awareness about yourself that you can pick yourself up without the need of watching tons of motivational videos…
You will Fail
Yes, you will, because I am not selling focus steroids here, this way of conquering distraction aims to help you better understand yourself and keep you focused over the long term, some days you might give in to those distractions, and it’s completely okay! . All you had to do is reflect back on how you were feeling and get back on track, and as you keep practicing this, things will get much easier, so take action right now, download the distraction tracker and turn these words into works
Question for the day,
How can I be better aware of my tractions and distractions?