When it comes to distractions, technology has become a serious problem. With the advent of smartphones, instant communication 24/7, and social media, the way we function and how our days play out has changed significantly.
We’re constantly bombarded and distracted by information and entertainment. All of it is presented in nice little bite-sized chunks that have been rewiring our brains. As a population, we’re having a hard time concentrating for any length of time or even finding the stamina to read a whole book. And a big reason for that is the constant distractions technology provides.
Technology and the gadgets we carry around with us distract us both at work and during our time at home, or out and about. As with anything else, the best solution is setting boundaries and eliminating at least some of the distractions that these devices, platforms, and software bring with them. Is it realistic to expect you to give up your smartphone or cancel your Facebook account? Of course not. Instead, you can gain a lot by taking back control and making a conscious decision about when you allow those distractions and when you don’t.
Social Media Distractions
Let’s start with social media. It’s a wonderful invention and a great way to connect and stay informed. You may even use it for business. It can also be a major distraction, particularly when you find yourself checking Facebook 30 times a day to see what everyone is up to, or keep getting alerts on your phone that someone repinned your recipe or posted in one of the groups you’re a member of. Having access to your favorite social media platforms from your computer and phone at all times is amazing, but it can also be quite distractive. It’s time to take back control and rule social media instead of letting it rule you.
What can you do?
Be honest with yourself. Do you check social media too often? Do you let yourself get distracted by it? Most of us do and it takes some time and discipline to break the habit. A great place to start is to simply make it a little harder to do so. Turn off the alerts for posts and updates on your phone and tablets. Delete the bookmarks to your favorite social media sites from your computers. Schedule social media free time. Trust me, you can make it for an hour or two before checking in. If you’re struggling to keep to your schedule, consider installing a program Self Control or Focus Booster. Both allow you to block certain websites and platforms for a given amount of time. Lock your phone or hide it away in your bag or a drawer if you need to. Work for a set amount of time and then reward yourself with a little social media distraction. Set a timer to make sure that little “break” doesn’t expand to half the afternoon.
Let’s talk about your smartphone a little more. It’s an amazing piece of technology, but the constant alerts and access to all sorts of apps, websites, and of course your email can prove to be quite the temptation. Your first order of business when it comes to reducing and eliminating distraction is to disable any and all alerts, at the very least during working hours and family time.
What can you do?
Chances are that you’re in the habit of constantly checking your phone. It’s important to break that habit if you want to eliminate these distractions. Put your phone aside. Silence it and either stick it in a drawer, or lay it upside down so you’re not distracted by blinking notifications or a lit up screen when alerts, phone calls, or texts come in. If you can be disciplined about this, it won’t take you long to break the habit of constantly looking at your phone. If you’re having a hard time with it, consider locking your phone in a drawer. As a last resort, you can get a lockbox with a timer that will help you break the habit. Remember, this isn’t permanent. Before long you will no longer be distracted by your phone and can simply keep it in your pocket, your purse, or on your desk without the constant temptation to check it.
The Distractions of Email and Text Messages
Most of us rely heavily on email and text messages to communicate both at work and with family and friends. They are a great tool and one of the biggest benefits is that you don’t have to respond real time. Let me repeat that… unlike a phone call where the idea is to talk to the other person right then and there, these forms of communication were designed to buy you time. You don’t have to reply to each email and text message immediately. Yet, we’ve all gotten in the habit of constantly checking for messages, haven’t we? We allow email and texts to constantly interrupt our day and distract us from what we were doing. Many people act as if those messages will self-destruct if they’re not read immediately. We may not respond right then and there, but we’ll read it. And that alone is plenty distracting. Time to work on eliminating yet another source of constant distraction.
What can you do?
Come up with a schedule that works for you, to deal with email and texts. I suggested a schedule for work earlier, but don’t forget to deal with personal emails and texts in a similar manner. Set certain times to check and respond to messages and then let it go. The world won’t end if you don’t see an email right away.
In addition, you should be ruthless about emails and texts that waste your time. Unsubscribe from email lists, set up filters to send promotional emails and the likes to a particular folder so you can read them on your own time, and only when you’re looking for this type of email. Get smart about managing email and using filters, folders, and labels. It’s some of the best time you’ll spend and it will greatly cut down on how much you’ll be distracted by email from what’s really important.
As a last suggestion. Don’t let your devices distract you in the bedroom. This should be an area of rest and relaxation. Leave the phone, the tablet, and other devices in the living room. You’ll sleep much better and if there’s one area where you really can’t use distractions it’s when you’re trying to get a good night sleep.
Do you have any tips for dealing with the distractions of technology? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Till Next time
Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor