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Distraction. It can come in so many forms...
Your kids vying for your attention while you're trying to meal prep.
Social media as you try to dig into a good book.
An interesting tv show as you're getting ready to head to the gym.
Your partner making sexy eyes at you even though you promised yourself this was going to be study time.
Your boss asking for you to do "that one thing" while you're trying to finish the last "one thing" he asked for.
In an age where your smart phone leaves you accessible to everyone at all times, in an age where it's easier and way less stressful to waste an hour on YouTube than finish that project, in an age where the hit of endorphins from the next "like" or "comment" has us reaching for our phone 80 times per day (literally, that comes from a study), finding focus and productivity is more difficult than ever.
And yet, being able to dial into deep concentration is one of the most essential skills for finding success in any and every avenue of our lives.
Want a great relationship? You've got to put the damn phone down, the laptop away, and focus on your partner.
Want a successful career? Not going to happen when you can't go 10 minutes without a 15-minute scrolling fix.
Want vibrant energy? It's going to take more than a half-ass treadmill workout as you distract yourself with a magazine.
But you know this. We all do. So why is it so freaking hard to just block out all the noise and DO THE THING??
Because our brains were wired to seek reward, and not just any reward, fast rewards. And more often than not, your attention is being pulled away from a tedious or unpleasant task, toward something that will give you that quick fix shot of adrenaline, endorphins, or "achievement" (yey!! I leveled up in Candy Crush!!).
Plus, there is the terrifying fact that our 8 second attention spans are officially shorter than that of a goldfish. All thanks to the brain-altering amount of technology and entertainment options at our fingertips.
But all hope is not lost. Like any skill, concentration can be learned and improved upon if you're willing to put in the time, effort, and yes, sacrifice it takes to build it.
So often we exist on autopilot. But just bringing a bit of awareness to our actions puts us back in the driver's seat to control them.
Guys... I literally did this as I was writing this post. I started to reach for my phone because I was frustrated that things weren't flowing. But I caught myself, recognized I was seeking relief from the work, and went back to powering through the writing. Ta da!
Put your phone on airplane mode, uninstall distracting apps, leave your phone in another room, or even (gasp) turn your phone off during times you need to concentrate most.
Besides serving as a distraction from decompressing time, or family time, or bed time, looking at screens disrupts melatonin production which jacks with sleep. Turn off all screens 1-2 hours before bed time.
Block out 45 minutes at a time to give your undivided attention to something. Then give yourself a designated brain break to scroll, stretch, check emails, etc.
This is a hard one for some, but essential for all. Learn to communicate your needs to those around you. Let your boss know when you're diving into a project, you can see if they need anything before you do.
Ask your spouse to keep the kids occupied so you can get an uninterrupted workout in.
Bad ass warriors don't rely on hope to get things done, they play an active role in creating the environment they need to get things done.
Now real quick, let me give you some props if you're reading this right now, because most have gotten distracted with something else and didn't even make it to the action steps. Winning!
But let me ask you, while you were reading this, did your phone go off? Did you stop half way through to read an email notification? Did you brain pull a "SQUIRREL!!!"?
No surprise if it did, but here's where you make your choice. Are you going to leave this blog and go back to the same distracted existence?
Or are you going to take the road less traveled and actually apply what you've learned here?
If the answer is the latter, I'm a big fan of claiming your intentions. Say them out loud, own them, be held accountable for them. Or in this case, write them in the comments below.
That's right, tell me what your biggest distraction is and one thing you're going to do TODAY to take back your power over your mind and productivity.