Are You Addicted to Distractions?

Get more done while feeling less busy

It’s 10am and you are at your desk with a mug of coffee. You don’t have a meeting scheduled so you gure it’s a good time to start work on writing the report you have been putting off.

The report is critical for moving your most important project forward and securing more funding. It also happens to be due in your boss’s inbox in two days’ time.

You open a Word document and write the title of the report.You’re not quite sure what to write next. Just then, a noti cation ashes up on your screen — you have a new email from a prospect you have a new business proposal in with.“Better just check what they want,”you say to yourself.

You hop into your email and read it.The message isn’t actually that important and you don’t really need to respond. However, given you are now in your inbox, you start opening up emails you have already read earlier this morning and wondering if there is anything you can send a quick reply to. Fifteen minutes have now passed, and you remember you’re meant to be writing a report.You switch back into the Word document.

You’re still stuck on the rst sentence.You have a few goes but nothing seems impactful enough. Just then your phone lights up with a noti cation that says you have ve new likes on the photo you posted on Facebook last night.You open up Facebook and see who has liked it.You feel smug and popular as your photo now has 40 likes.

“I might just have a quick scroll through my news feed,” you think to yourself. Forty minutes, 10 likes, ve comments, and one purchase of a gadget you’ll probably never use later, you shake yourself out of your

Facebook fog, and get back to your Word document.

It’s now 11am and a whole hour has passed and you’re not quite sure how that has happened.

If that sounds like your morning, you may be facing a distraction addiction. But don’t worry — you’re not alone. Research shows that we check our mobile phone an average of 85 times per day. Essentially, we can’t go a measly 10 minutes without just checking our phone for something.

Most of us are bombarded with noti cations from our phone, our watch and our computer every few minutes. Distractions are everywhere. While you may think this
is harmless, research from the University
of London has shown that even just the presence of noti cations on your screens decreases your IQ by an average of 10 points. That’s the same loss you receive from not having slept the night before.

So, if you are ready to beat your battle with distraction, here are three tips on how to do so.

1. Switch o ALL noti cations

Oscar Wilde famously said,“I can resist everything except temptation.”Noti cations tempt us. They ash up on our screen and scream “Read me now!” One of the simplest ways to break your distraction addition is
to turn off all your noti cations.This means across all your devices — not just one. Removing temptations helps make it easier to keep focused on the task at hand.

While turning off noti cations will probably make you sweat with anxiety for the rst few days — who knows what important

status updates you may miss (!) — in the long run,this is the rst step in changing your distraction habits.

2. Go on Flight Mode
So, you’ve switched off all your

noti cations, but your phone still rings and beeps when people are trying to contact you through the good old-fashioned call or SMS. While you may feel perfectly happy sending the‘BlockedNumber’tovoicemail,it’stoo easy to pick up the phone when your partner calls to have a little chat.

To avoid the temptation of the call or SMS, switch your phone to Flight Mode. Just like turning off noti cations, if you can eliminate the temptation to begin with, it’s far easier to create blocks of distraction-free time in your day.

3. Turn your phone to Grayscale

Have you ever noticed how bright and colourful and fun the screen of your phone looks? Sort of like those bright and colourful and fun slot machines in Vegas. This is not
a coincidence.The makers of many of the social media applications employ hundreds ofAttentionEngineers.That’sright,thevery same people that try to make gambling addictive are also applying the same tricks to your phone.

Beat them at their own game by switching your phone to Grayscale via your settings. As Senior Editor of the Atlantic James Hamblin says,“Instagram, when everything is in grayscale, looks pretty awful.”

Breaking any addition is hard, but if you stick with these three tips, I can guarantee you will have broken your bad habits in no time.

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