Information is power. And too much of it can be a distraction. It is true!
Our ability to connect deliberately and consciously is actually hindered in part by the fast-paced, cluttered-with-data media that we have come to rely on for information. There is literally no shortage of it. In fact, we have so much information and such an ability to get more of it that it might just contribute to the scarcity in our attention.
Television, smart phones, computers that all provide us the abundance of information, also serve to take away what should be a superpower: our attention.
How many times have you opened up a computer to work and found yourself aimlessly searching the internet for something that ends up being nothing at all – at least in terms of what you have accomplished. You “wake” up an hour later and shake your head in disbelief that you just spent that much time being distracted.
The internet and social media feed distraction.
Yes they are necessary tools to keep us informed, on top of things, keeping pace with what is going on. And they equally have the power to overwhelm. Too much information – too much of anything really – feeds overwhelm and welcomes in distraction.
The challenge for us is to temper that distraction and to be more conscious of what and how much information we let in. And when.
Our ancestors – you know the cave people – they needed distractability. In fact, our brains today are more susceptible to it because cave people relied on it as a means of alerting them to threats and danger in their natural environment. Today we don’t really have the same threats but our brains don’t know that.
We don’t need to be alerted every other minute of the day by notifications on our smart phones. Those only serve to welcome in interruption and distraction, for really any reason. Sometimes it’s important. Many times it is not.
There are few things you can do to regain focus, and keep distraction at bay.
1.Turn off your notifications.
When I first got a smart phone I was constantly distracted by who posted on Facebook or twitter. I was alerted all.day.long by notifications about the weather, the news, and sales at Nike. I had no idea why I was getting all of this stuff but it definitely felt like clutter. Turning off notifications for everything has completely quieted the noise. You don’t need to be notified. You need to schedule your time, and create space to be on social media to keep you up-to-date.
I swear this is the answer for everything that ails. When you spend even a small amount of time in silence and stillness you set a vibration for yourself. If you meditate in the beginning of the day as I do, you might just find it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Giving yourself this gift of silence allows you to feel what calm is, and in doing so recognize more clearly when the opposite is in play. Spoiler alert: The more you experience calm and quiet, the more you’ll want it. And in situations when you are pulled in different directions or feel distracted you can call upon the practice of meditation and silence.it.all.
3. Plan you day and your week.
Fragmented time equals frustration when it comes to getting things accomplished. Our feeling of worth is often based in part on how good we feel about the work we do, what we accomplish. We all want to feel productive. Distractions make that harder. A plan for the day and the work week will give you something to work towards. When you have a concrete plan, have manageable steps you can take, you are more likely to stay the course and keep distraction at bay.
4. Limit social media.
Sorry, Charlie. I know you hate to hear this but the more you limit the endless scrolling on your phone or computer the less distracted you will be. When you are consistently distracted and pulled into different directions, it becomes your experience. It is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Let distraction in, and it is harder to not let it be who you are. Limit what distracts, and you make easier work staying attentive.
It really is a superpower worth striving to achieve.