However, what I have realized is that the root cause of distractions goes deeper than those external symptoms- they are the result of our brain helping us avoid feelings of discomfort.
For example, i might want to write a blockbuster article, undoubtedly a difficult task. So my mind seeks ways to avoid the pain and struggle related to sitting down, doing research and writing my article. Ideally this will happen in a manner that won't make me feel bad about myself. I might check our emails or unimportant meetings- things that make me feel busy but that won't give me time to do what I really want to do-write my post.
Obviously, these are unhealthy ways of relieving discomfort- that's why we call them distractions. But here is the truth: They are only distractions if we really know what we want to be doing with our time- and here lies one of the root causes why so many of us struggle with productivity. Productivity means moving towards our goals and dreams, but that requires us to know what we really want.
I know this is obvious, yet so often I and so many people around me do things, without any real purpose. For example, i might read a book because it sounds interesting, but i do not think of how this book will help me transform a key area of my life. So when i read it, I often find myself distracted. On the other hand, when I do read something with a purpose, it becomes so much easier to persist any temptations, especially if i can visualize the benefits that i will have once i implement the ideas from the book I am reading.
Now i am willing to embrace the discomfort of sitting still, because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel- either some form of breakthrough knowledge or skill that will help me experience more growth or joy or fulfillment.
So the first step to being less distracted, is to spend some time on a regular basis, thinking about the things we really want.
I do this every Sunday, and i call it my Weekly Strategy Session.
I schedule 15 minutes and think about the key things I want to achieve in the key areas of my life, both in the long run but also in the coming week.
I think about the things i want to complete for my business and my career, the experiences I want to have with my kids and my family, and the habits i want to do for my health and well-being.
The second thing that has helped me is to simply notice what happens just seconds before giving in to temptations, like checking my emails or browsing on social media.
Usually, I will notice that certain emotions trigger the need to feel distracted. I know this might sound weird, but just by being able to notice and observe that i am feeling restless or annoyed will help me create a gap between my feeling and my reaction.
Suddenly, I can choose not to give in to external distractions and instead use my time in a more productive manner.
In other words, being clear about my goals and aware of my emotions preceding distractions, are the two things that have helped me become more focused. I hope this helps, and would love to hear other thoughts on the topic of distractions.
Written by Allon Khakshouri