The 21st century is one of the worst times in history when it comes to getting distracted. Right after the computer age and the invention of the internet, people are no longer just confined to being distracted by the things in their immediate area — they have the infinite distraction that is the internet.
Additionally, technology is being introduced at such a rate that people are having to learn the hard way how to ensure that the technology is working in their best interest and not making life more difficult.
Beyond technology alone, there are many different distractions ranging from physical distractions in your immediate environment to mental distractions that seemingly come out of thin air. With all of these distractions, it is common to feel as if it is difficult or impossible to sit down and work at something consistently without getting distracted.
Distractions happen and you can try your hardest to eliminate them but ultimately they will always find their way to you. The best thing to do is to be able to identify when you’ve been distracted, acknowledge it, and get back to the task at hand.
Below is a closer look at some common distractions and underlying reasons you are getting distracted as well as ways you can try and mitigate distractions and mitigate the effect they have on you when you get distracted. Understanding the things that distract you can allow you to build your very own concentration strategy.
When you think of distractions you most likely think of conventional distractions such as loud noises, an uncomfortable seat, and feeling too hot or cold. These distractions are some of the easier ones to deal with because they can be taken care of by making small adjustments in your environment.
Examples include wearing earplugs or getting a pair of noise-canceling headphones to cut you off from the auditory distractions. You can wear layers and take some off if you’re too hot or you can layer back up if you feeling chilled. For an uncomfortable seating position, you can opt for a new chair or even just bring a pillow with you.
The opportunities to better your immediate environment from physical distractions are immense, and if you are able to identify exactly what is grabbing your attention while working on something, you can work on trying to reduce or eliminate it.
The first cellphone was created in 1973 but by today’s standards, the cellphone has a closer resemblance to a cinderblock than a phone due to it being bulky and heavy. The late 80s and early 90s represent the beginning of modern cellphones that could be carried anywhere in a pocket. 30 years of modern cellphones may not sound like long and in that short time text messages and the invention of the smartphone occurred.
Each year it seems like technology is becoming more integrated into your life and, while it may be nice to have your watch alert you when you get a text, ultimately, it is making it harder and harder to avoid distractions from the phone and go completely distraction-free.
The modern smartphone is considered one of the worst productivity killers and the best way to avoid it is to put physical distance between it and you. Place it into a drawer, leave it at home, or even give it to a loved one when you need to get down and focus.
Mental distractions represent some of the most difficult distractions to deal with because there is not really a way to avoid them. With loud noises, you can pop in some earplugs and you’re all good, but with mental distractions, your thoughts can keep coming back and continue to pull your attention away from the task at hand.
Stress can oftentimes be a source of mental distraction and learning how to effectively manage your stress can be a great option. While promoting a solid foundation of mental wellbeing can help to combat recurrent mental distractions, the best solution is learning how to deal with the distractions as they come.
Noting can be a powerful tool when it comes to internal distractions. Noting is a technique in which you fully acknowledge a distraction and you choose to let it go. Noting is frequently utilized in meditation and it is often described as being an observer of your own thoughts rather than interacting with them.
Many people have a difficult time with distractions and an inability to focus due to underlying reasons. That underlying reason may be as simple as disinterest or it can be more complex. Below is a closer look at some underlying reasons why you may not be able to focus.
Enjoyment and motivation are two factors that can play a large role in your ability to focus. The more interested you are in the task at hand the less likely you are to let other things divert your attention. Typically, when something is not very engaging or enjoyable, the things around you suddenly become more interesting to your mind and your attention is much more likely to wander.
Lack of sleep
Maintaining focus is a cognitively tasking job and, if you don’t have enough sleep, it can result in you getting distracted more easily and can decrease your ability to get things done. Sleep is often taken for granted but it plays a major role in your overall wellbeing as well as your ability to resist the temptations of distractions.
Sleep deprivation can be rough and it can make it incredibly difficult to concentrate and focus on a single task. Making sleep a priority and ensuring you get at least seven hours each night can help to provide you with more mental stamina to fight back against distractions.
The human body is immensely complex and the brain itself carries out thousands of operations in a given moment. When you are focused on a task your brain is hard at work deciding what sensory information is important and what can be ignored. If there is something that is impeding your optimal brain health it may be easier to fall into a distraction.
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Time to focus
In summary, there are a large number of potential reasons as to why you can’t focus and why you may be easily distracted. For some people, distractions can be harder to ignore while for others it is as easy as turning on their own personal selective hearing ears. Physical distractions, mental distractions, and potential underlying reasons such as disinterest may be at play if you find yourself constantly unable to focus.