How To Cope With Digital Distraction
I have a really, really bad habit. I’m so organised in the evenings, getting my clothes and lunch together for the day ahead and planning my to do list so I know what to expect. I get my eight hours of sleep, reach for my phone as my alarm rings out and…just don’t put my phone down again. Before I know it, my planned morning can slip away as I go through each of my social media apps, mindlessly scrolling. The next time I look up, an hour has passed and my morning gym session has gone out of the window!
When it comes to work, I kid myself that after each big task, I can have a quick swipe through Twitter to see what’s going on. Nah – that’s another 15 minutes gone and I need to play catch up so I can finish my tasks in a timely manner so I’m not working into the night!
Digital distraction is real. Did you know that on average, we touch our phones 2,600 times per day? I’m sure many of us have had the experience of ‘phantom vibration syndrome’ and how merely seeing a message alert can be as distracting as checking the message itself.
Because of our ‘always on’ culture, we’re constantly getting distracted by chimes, pings and vibration. Have you ever had dinner with your friend and had to try really hard not to look at your phone which is sitting on the table, because you heard it ping whilst they are telling a story? That’s digital distraction – and truly, what could be more important than what’s right in front of you at that moment?
With what feels like the entire universe at your fingertips with a few taps of the keyboard, it should actually come as no surprise that it’s so easy to be distracted by your digital devices. At best, you lose a little time and have to work harder to do your best work. At worst, you start to lose the creativity and motivation you have for achieving on a daily basis. In addition, you may even start to lose sight of who you are without technology – constantly checking in to validate your experiences with posts. If you can, turn your phone off whilst you’re working, especially if you know you don’t really need it. What’s the harm if it’s off for 30 minutes, an hour – the entire working day? Best case scenario, you’re much more productive.
#2 Be Present In The Moment
I love taking pictures and videos of the things I get up to in my life. Early last year however, if I saw a beautiful sunset, I would think ‘Instagram’ first, before I thought ‘Wow, that’s beautiful’. That’s a problem. Because of the digital distraction habit I’d got myself into, I was unable to enjoy things fully without trying to come up with a funny caption or the best filter for a photo. I began leaving my phone at home when I knew I was going to be doing something mindful or special, which really helped clear my head as I didn’t have to worry about being distracted at that time.
#3 Set A Routine and Focus On Face-to-Face
Setting a routine for technology use can really help. You could make a pledge to only read emails once in the morning and then once in the afternoon, to allow you to continue with your tasks effectively. Another great way to get past that digital distraction is to schedule short meetings with colleagues or clients either in person or via FaceTime or Skype. Even a short 15 minute face-to-face will allow for all questions to be asked, and all information to be verified in one go. That way, you won’t need to keep checking your phone to see if someone has responded to your email.
#4 Finding That Balance
We pretty much all need technology and digital devices to be effective and connected in our work and every day lives, but it’s seeking that balance to ensure we’re not scuppering our chances of a better experience by overwhelming ourselves with digital distraction which is key.
Doing this will give you the best chance to think about complex tasks without interruption or to engage more fully with those around you. Choosing the moments where being phone-free is most valuable can help keep you on track.