- Why can’t I focus in the midst of distractions?
- Why do I keep interrupting myself, even when I’m on a roll?
- Why do I feel exhausted at the end of my day?
The answers vary. But there is one modern habit that definitely contributes to these experiences – our 3D habit of Digital-Dipsy-Doodling. (I love that phrase – and wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t. See resources of the week for the origin and two articles that say more about this experience.)
You may well be familiar with 3D behavior, yourself. It’s the practice of jumping around between email, twitter, facebook, instagram, and the many other diversions of the web at large.
Why do we do it? It could be FOMO – fear of missing out. Or, it could be (as neuroscience suggests) that fresh doses of info send zingers of dopamine to the brain. Dopamine feels good. And, so, we Dipsy-Doodle – again and again – moving ever further away from what we had initially set out to accomplish.
While we are busy jumping around like grasshoppers on Red Bull, we may not even be aware that all this switching takes energy. The more we leapfrog, the less we accomplish, and the more exhausted we feel.
Doped up and depleted was probably not how any of us envisioned our days unfolding. Welcome to the downward spiral of digital distraction!
Action: So what’s a busy body to do? Try adopting a couple of other D’s – namely Determination and Discipline.
- Know that when it comes to self-interruptions, there’s only one person responsible – and you’re looking at him/her in the mirror.
- Do something that doesn’t require your smart phone or ipad – and do it without your device in hand.
- Stash a device or two or three in some less convenient location, Put temptation out of reach and eventually out of mind.
- Choose one point of focus for a predetermined length of time. Commit to it and return to it in the face of any and every distraction – self or other generated.
- Bask in the glow of satisfaction that comes from finishing one task of value – preferably something that has a longer shelf life than a short-lived ‘like’ or ‘tweet’.
Quotes Of The Week: You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one. – Tom Kite
Social media is a giant distraction to the ultimate aim, which is honing your craft as a songwriter. If you are a writer, the time is better spent on a clever lyric than a clever tweet. – Bryan Adams
Resources Of The Week:
Globe & Mail article by Harvey Schacter: Wish You Could Find More Time To Read?
Blog post by Hugh McGuire: Why Can’t We Read Any More?
Readers Write: Last week’s Pause message, Not Every Task Is Yours To Do, really struck a chord for several readers.
K writes: Lately, I’ve been having an issue with saying ‘no’ and my life after work has become another full time job in itself. You reminded me that it’s okay to say no and to let things pass. I know what is a good fit for me and don’t need to feel pressured or guilty for not contributing or helping on every request.
B writes: I wish I had read your email this morning! I really needed to say “no” to a request but found myself saying “yes”. No more!
R writes: Thanks for reminding us we can swim against the stream.