Now, imagine that you’re working on something that is super important. It has an impending deadline, and you haven’t begun. You drag yourself to the workstation, try to focus, but 10 minutes into it, you find yourself watching YouTube videos, or scrolling through your Instagram feed. Relatable? Do you get so distracted while watching a show or a movie? Most of you will answer with a NO.
Why does our mind wander so much only when we are working? Because distraction is an escape. We are most likely to get distracted when we don’t know the answer to something. Or when the task itself is causing boredom or anxiety-like fear of failure, the mindless scrolling is an escape that makes us feel better.
Melbourne psychologist Dr Matthew Berry thinks that distraction has become our number one avoidance technique for pain. He calls it the “21st-Century Syndrome” – where we get over-attuned by one thing – like scrolling or watching videos and under-attuned to anything else.
These feelings of anxiety and boredom are on a rise while working from home, and harder to handle. At work, the pantry or the lounge area is your downtime where you talk to people and relax. At home, your brain does not have that space.
So, it is when you do your chores, your mind gets its downtime. It might seem that you’re just doing the laundry or doing the dishes, but in the background, you’re also problem-solving.
This phenomenon goes missing with technology. Too much time is frittered away, our mind shuts, and we cannot delve into problem-solving. Moreover, you are stuck at the same place where you left your work at – the scrolling did not help you ideate nor relax.
Although it is not practical to completely abstain the use of technology while working, the solution is to identify what triggers this distraction. Is it boredom, fear of failure, is the task too difficult? Ask yourself and you shall know the answer, and the action you need to take.
You can also practise the power of affirmations: the more you tell yourself something repeatedly, the more it turns out to be true.
“I can handle this work”
“I do not get distracted easily.”
“I can accomplish this task without getting distracted.”
If you’re distracted as you read this right now, take a moment, and reflect. You might be distracted because of something which is at the back of your mind. Address it, act on it, and you’ll feel the calm instantly.