We live in the age of distraction. We carry a weapon of mass distraction in our pockets, our smartphones. All the distractions out there are stealing our most valuable commodity, our time. Time is the building block of our lives and the distractions are killing us slowly by stealing our time. We live our lives as drones, hypnotized by bright screens. We miss our lives. We are connected with the rest of the world, yet we haven’t been this disconnected.
The question we have to ask is “how do I eradicate distraction from my life?” The answer is not easy. There’s no silver bullet to eradicate all distraction from our lives. It requires some reflection on the causes and attacking the problem from different angles.
What causes distraction?
When we’re stressed, we want to escape from the situation that causes stress. We want to keep our minds busy with something simple, so that we don’t feel the discomfort of stress. That’s one way we give in to distraction. However, avoiding the problem at hand causes even greater problems and even greater stress later.
Facing our problems is discomforting for sure, but ignoring them only makes them bigger. It’s not that we don’t have enough time or energy. The main problem is that we waste a good portion of our time and energy. The remainder is not sufficient to achieve our targets.
Why are we stressed?
We are stressed, when we don’t know where we’re headed to. We’re stressed, when we don’t have any control over our lives and over our future. We are stressed, if we don’t have a clear vision. What is the antidote? The antidote is to set a major definite purpose, work towards it every day, and take the control of our lives into our own hands.
Another cause of stress is facing a challenge and not knowing how to approach it. When we face a challenge, the common reaction is to look for a crystal clear, step-by-step solution. We can rarely find such solutions for big challenges. The best approach is to start where we are and make continuous improvements.
Another common reason of distraction is when we don’t know what to do. Life is good on the surface and we have all the time to watch video clips and play games. Why not do it? Your life is too precious to waste your time on them. While you’re watching cute cat videos online, someone, somewhere in the world, produces something extraordinary. That person could be you.
Then there are practical reasons for distraction. We build habits around our favorite distractions. We give in to distraction when we’re tired or after a meal. Both cases can be solved with a two-step method.
The first step is to raise our awareness by keeping track of our behavior. We can do that by measuring how often and how long we give in to distraction. This is an eye-opener. If you figure out that you spend one hour per day on mindless internet surfing, that makes seven hours per week. That makes more than 15 complete days per year. You’re literally wasting a two week summer vacation every year. Is that really worth it?
The second step is to come up with substitutions to the distractions. You might find it difficult to work on a project after a long working day. However, that doesn’t mean you have to waste your time in front of your TV. You can switch off the TV and have a conversation with your family. You can journal and reflect on your day. You can read a book or listen to an audiobook.
By giving in to distraction, we waste mental energy. We not only waste time, but we also lose our attention. We lose our focus. We miss what really matters in our lives. The best solutions don’t come us when we’re actively working on a project. They come when we’re resting. By giving in to distraction, we miss that opportunity.
There’s no silver bullet against distraction. Yet, we can overcome it in time by working on ourselves persistently. Willpower is like a muscle. Don’t get discouraged if your willpower fails over and over. Keep on stretching it. In time, it will get stronger.
Ask yourself the following questions. “Is this the best use of my time? What is the best use of my time?” This requires some mindfulness. Write down a clear vision, a major definite purpose and evaluate yourself every day and every week. In time, you’ll see distraction disappearing from your life.
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.