Distraction, it turns out, isn’t about the distraction itself; rather, it’s about how we respond to it.
Nir Eyal, Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life
We live in a world filled with distractions.
There have always been distractions, but many of the distractions we face today were engineered to bypass our awareness and manipulate our behavior.
Unless we are willing to completely disconnect from technology and society, we need to learn how to manage these external distractions.
The most effective strategy for managing distractions in our environment is to manage our inner world.
Distractions trigger behaviors that draw us away from acting in harmony with our true values.
They do that by hijacking our motivation to avoid discomfort.
Boredom, fear of missing out, risk of embarrassment — these uncomfortable states are triggered by external distractions.
We are tempted to find relief in a quick fix.
However, that relief doesn’t last and leaves us worse off than before.
The discomfort returns even stronger along with guilt and elevated stress.
But we are not left helpless, like leaves blowing in the wind.
Simply by being aware of this process and acting in harmony with what is most important to us, we can dial down the discomfort.
As important as it is to manage interruptions and notifications, most of our distractions are self-generated.
We feel bored, lonely, or anxious, so we look for relief in Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
We can use many strategies to deal with those inner triggers.
One effective strategy is the 10-minute rule.
If we have the urge to scroll through our Twitter feed, we can tell ourselves that we can do just that but in ten minutes.
In the meantime, we return to what we had planned to do in support of our goals and values.
After ten minutes, we can briefly check our Twitter feed or go for another ten minutes.
In any case, we are acting intentionally.
The more aware we are of these inner triggers, the more we can do the things that match our values and goal.
And this will give a greater sense of satisfaction and purpose to our lives.
Now available at Amazon: The Courageous Heart: Wisdom for Difficult Times in paperback and eBook.