Are you easily distracted?

By Enid Westerlund 16 March 2023, 11:00AM

When was the last time you were in a meeting and you totally forgot someone’s name. It’s on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t say it.

Saving yourself the embarrassment, you don’t ask and wait for everyone else to say it. Shux! That’s the name, finally you won’t lose sleep over it. You leave the meeting realising, you only remembered a third of what was discussed. Why is this happening more often these days? Is it because we are so easily distracted? Where do distractions come from and why?

When we are distracted, our focus is not wholly on what we are doing. It is like we have left the iron or the stove on at home while we are at work. Or we’ve forgotten our kid’s lunch box and now trying to figure out how to get that to them while chairing a meeting at the same time. We don’t want our child to go hungry. Does everyone else go through these small irritations? You keep thinking that if you wake up earlier, be more organised, sleep less, life would be less chaotic.

Are all distractions bad? Yes and no. Some say distraction is a curse but where do they originate from? Distraction is the process of interrupted attention’. It draws our focus away from the task of primary interest. It takes us away from what we want to do. What we are supposed to do. Like a computer left with too many tabs open. If you want to open a specific tab, you’ll have to go through all of them to get tot he one you want.

Luckily, we are not computers and our screens don’t freeze. Do they?

Distraction can become a habit. When this happens, our personal and professional lives suffer. It becomes problematic, when we pull away from friends and family and we miss out on cultivating good relationships. These, we need for our psychological well-being (Nirandfar,2023).

Do you recognise any of these unhealthy distractions?

In a meeting and your mind wanders Looking at your phone constantly. Thinking about work when you are driving Looking at notifications that pop up on your phone even in conversations with family, colleagues and friends.

Interrupting focused work to check email. Stopping work to chat with colleagues walking by your desk every few minutes. Scrolling through social media feeds while you planned to read a book, do research or finish an assignment.

All of us are guilty of doing some of these things. We live in a world that is constantly trying to get attention from us. Technology has made focusing even more challenging. Distraction comes from external and internal triggers. The environment offers many distractions and more from within ourselves. When we feel stress, lonely hungry, thirsty or unwell, our focus is elsewhere.

Other welcomed distractions are for simple escape from current situations. Don’t despair. There are tools that we can use to manage them.

1. Master internal triggers : Understand your behaviours and why you feel the need to look at your phone all the time. Is it boredom, loneliness, insecurity, fatigue? Or do you just want to be elsewhere? Usually our behaviours come from discomfort. You can’t control how you feel but you can certainly control how you react to stimuli.

2. Make time for traction: Traction is any action that moves us to what we want. Getting enough sleep, physical exercise, praying, self care are all forms of traction. Do more of these so you can focus.

3. Hackback external triggers: Make an effort to remove the things you don’t need. If it’s that extra app with too many notifications, you can either silent them or delete them all together. If it’s a group of people who don’t add value to your life, slowly disconnect.

4. Prevent distraction with pacts : Plan out your day and commit your plan to mind. Make a pact to yourself that these are the priorities for the day and work on them. Whatever we do, we can work on the little things to help us focus.

We can do it. It’s not some magical formula that we can get off a 10 second video. It is a skill we can work on. Enjoy the rest of the week Samoa and remember, not all distractions are bad. Keep the good ones and work on them./

By Enid Westerlund 16 March 2023, 11:00AM
Samoa Observer

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