Distractions: Understanding the Biggest Productivity Killer

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When it comes to productivity, distractions tin beryllium a large problem. With truthful galore different distractions successful today’s world, staying focused connected nan task astatine manus tin beryllium difficult. When we move betwixt tasks, we suffer up to 40% of our productive clip because our brains person to set and refocus. On average, distractions consequence successful regular clip losses of 2.1 hours.

Some distractions are obvious, while others are subtler and much difficult to observe and manage. For instance, nan mostly of you are alert that our phones’ aliases computers’ notifications are a changeless root of distraction, but are you besides alert of really your accent aliases anxious thoughts impact your expertise to concentrate?

This article will thatch you everything you request to cognize astir distractions truthful that you tin flooded them and summation your productivity.

What Are Distractions successful a Nutshell?

In a nutshell, thing that diverts our attraction from nan task we are presently moving connected is simply a distraction.

As defined successful Merriam Webster Dictionary, “distraction” is:

Something that distracts : an entity that directs one’s attraction distant from thing else

Distractions tin return galore different forms. Among nan astir communal distractions are:

  • Electronic instrumentality notifications: Constantly receiving alerts from computers, smartphones, and different devices tin beryllium very distracting.
  • Social media: Using societal media incessantly tin beryllium a awesome root of distraction.
  • Email: Reading and responding to emails, particularly if you do truthful often passim nan day, tin beryllium a important root of distraction.

It’s important to recognise that distractions are a earthy portion of life, and eliminating them wholly isn’t ever imaginable aliases desirable. Managing distractions and uncovering ways to enactment focused, connected nan different hand, tin thief you amended your productivity and scope your goals.

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Why Do We Get Distracted So Easily?

There are respective reasons why we whitethorn go easy distracted:

1. Our Brains Are Hardwired to Be Distracted

In bid to study and accommodate to our environment, our brains are made to actively activity retired caller accusation and stimuli. This is simply a captious constituent of quality cognition.

According to nan Neuro investigation connected humans and macaque monkeys, alternatively than functioning continuously, our capacity for attraction is built to usability successful short bursts. We are distracted successful betwixt those bursts of attention. The encephalon pauses and scans nan situation during those periods of distraction to spot if location is thing extracurricular nan main attraction of attraction that mightiness beryllium much significant. If not, it will refocus connected what you were doing.

This quality instinct, however, tin origin america to go easy distracted. For instance, erstwhile we are engaged successful a task and perceive a large sound aliases spot thing intriguing, our brains whitethorn automatically move our attraction to nan caller stimulus. This tin beryllium particularly difficult successful today’s world, wherever truthful galore sources of accusation and intermezo compete for our attention.

2. We Live successful a World Full of Distractions

There are now much informational and intermezo resources than ever earlier disposable to america acknowledgment to nan dispersed of exertion and nan internet. This is some a blessing and a curse because it intends that we person easy entree to a assortment of devices and pursuits that tin assistance successful our acquisition and development. But pinch truthful galore options vying for our attention, it tin besides beryllium challenging to stay concentrated connected a azygous task.

A study recovered that different parts of our encephalon attraction connected nan situation successful various ways, and that nan type of outer stimulus moreover affects nan wave astatine which our encephalon waves pulse:

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“Neural activity goes up and down successful a regular periodic way, pinch everything vibrating together. It is faster for automatic stimuli and slower for things we take to salary attraction to.”

This intends that erstwhile we are surrounded by distractions, it is much difficult for america to attraction connected what we request to attraction on.

As an illustration, you mightiness beryllium tempted to cheque a notification connected your telephone while moving connected a task if you get one. It whitethorn beryllium much difficult to get backmost into nan travel of your activity aft being pulled distant by this insignificant interruption. Similar to this, you mightiness find yourself drawn to click connected a news header aliases societal media station while moving connected a task if it catches your attention.

3. We Have a Short Attention Span

According to a 2010 Harvard study, nan mean person’s mind wanders 47% of nan time, which intends that you’re reasoning astir thing other almost half nan clip you’re doing 1 thing.

Humans person a short attraction span, truthful it’s normal for our attraction to commencement to stray aft a while. This is particularly existent if we are required to activity without immoderate breaks connected a azygous task for an extended play of time.

For instance, if you are moving connected a task that demands a batch of attraction and you don’t return immoderate breaks, you mightiness find that aft immoderate clip you are easy distracted. This whitethorn beryllium brought connected by a number of things, specified arsenic weariness, boredom, aliases simply nan request for a alteration of scenery.

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4. Most Of Us Have Poor Time Management Skills

Poor clip guidance skills tin lead to a deficiency of attraction and productivity successful respective ways:

  • Lack of clear priorities and goals: Without clear priorities and goals for your work, it tin beryllium challenging to support attraction and debar getting distracted by little important tasks.
  • Failing to allocate clip effectively: Without a clear scheme for really to disagreement up your clip and resources, you whitethorn find yourself switching betwixt tasks aliases getting stuck connected little important ones.
  • Procrastination: Procrastination is simply a awesome root of distraction because it keeps you from your activity and makes it much challenging to get backmost to it.

We tin go easy distracted for a assortment of reasons, each of which tin beryllium coming astatine nan aforesaid time. But we tin sharpen our attraction and summation productivity by identifying nan sources of distraction and creating guidance strategies for them.

The 2 Types of Distractions

In bid to successfully flooded distractions, we must first understand wherever distractions often travel from. There are 2 kinds of distractions:

External Distraction

External distractions are those that travel from extracurricular of ourselves. Noise, interruptions, and different stimuli that propulsion america distant from nan task astatine manus are a fewer examples of outer distractions.

External distractions see ocular triggers, societal interactions, sound, and technology. A fewer of these are:

  • Phone calls
  • Text messages
  • Emails
  • Notifications connected nan phone
  • Social media
  • Movement
  • Conversations
  • Noise
  • Music
  • Coworkers
  • Family
  • Pets

Quick Action Item

  • The quickest measurement to destruct outer distractions is to region yourself from evident distractions erstwhile you request to focus.
  • For example, muting telephone notifications, wearing noise-canceling headphones, closing nan agency door, blocking your schedule to forestall coworkers from interrupting you, and informing your family up of clip that you will request to focus.

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Internal Distraction

Internal distractions are nan guidelines of our distraction. They are distractions that originate wrong america alternatively than from extracurricular sources. They are your ain thoughts and emotions specified arsenic worries astir important obligations aliases enjoyable activities you’d alternatively beryllium doing; and antagonistic feelings you person regarding nan task you are moving on.

Typical soul distractions see nan following:

  • Negative Thoughts: Worry, anxiety, aliases vexation are each examples of antagonistic thoughts aliases emotions that tin beryllium distracting and make it difficult to concentrate.
  • Impulses: Impulses aliases desires, specified arsenic nan request to cheque our phones aliases return a break, tin divert america from our work.
  • Daydreaming: It tin beryllium difficult to attraction erstwhile our thoughts commencement to stray and we statesman to see matters unrelated to nan task astatine hand.

Internal distractions are linked to our earthy small heart to debar discomfort. We, arsenic humans, are motivated by state from discomfort alternatively than reward and reward. When we are successful beingness aliases intelligence distress, we people activity ways to alleviate it.

These discomforts and escapes tin return galore forms, specified as:

  • The reality of matrimony problems and nan flight provided by video games
  • The reality of activity accent and Netflix binges arsenic nan escape
  • The reality of a difficult task and nan flight of doing location chores erstwhile you activity from home
  • The reality of reliable life and nan flight of societal media scrolling

As a result, these escapes go our distractions.

Quick Action Item

  • There is usually a trigger that causes you to move to a distraction activity. Determine nan trigger and really you consciousness astatine nan time.
  • Instead of allowing your emotions to power your actions, beryllium pinch them for 5 minutes and debar getting caught up successful nan incorrect activity during that time.
  • Then commencement breaking down nan situation into smaller tasks that you tin tackle correct away.

The Cost of Distraction

Distractions are nan number 1 slayer of productivity. A personification is distracted each 11 minutes connected average, and it takes astatine slightest 25 minutes to regain optimal focus. That intends you’re wasting six retired of each 8 hours of your time to distractions.

Here are immoderate much startling statistics:

  • On a individual level, distractions person an effect connected our performance:
    • 54% aren’t performing arsenic good arsenic they are expected to;
    • 50% are importantly little productive;
    • 20% are incapable to scope their afloat imaginable aliases beforehand successful their careers.
  • On an organizational level, distractions origin institution loss:
    • 45% reported compromised value of work
    • 30% reported little morale arsenic a consequence of different labor having to prime up nan slack
    • 25% reported a antagonistic effect of boss/employee relationship
    • 24% reported missed deadlines
    • 21% reported a gross loss

Distractions tin importantly trim productivity, efficiency, and moreover safety. The costs of distraction, for instance, tin beryllium imaginable harm aliases moreover decease erstwhile operating machinery aliases while driving a car.

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Furthermore, distractions tin lend to a little fulfilling life. Since distractions make it difficult to enactment focused connected nan things that are astir important to you, you whitethorn find yourself wasting clip connected tasks aliases activities that do not lend to your semipermanent goals aliases wide well-being.

For example, you could walk hours scrolling done societal media aliases engaging successful different activities that are enjoyable successful nan infinitesimal but person nary semipermanent value. On nan contrary, focusing connected jobs and pursuits that are worthwhile and beforehand your goals and wide well-being tin amended your life.

Quick reflection:

  • Consider really galore hours of clip and power you discarded each day.
  • Now multiply those hours by nan number of weeks and months.
  • Consider wherever you walk nan mostly of your time.

How to Overcome Distractions

You cannot power each distraction; immoderate distractions are genuinely urgent. Sometimes you do person to return attraction of unexpected things but 90% of them aren’t really that urgent aliases important.

Most group take to beryllium distracted subconsciously and let nan distraction to return them distant from what they’re trying to attraction on.

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That’s right, you tin take to beryllium distracted. That intends you person power complete distractions.

Distractions are a reflection of an soul conflict wrong you. They are a reflection of thing your mind is still debating. Things tempt you distant from it and compete for your attraction because your mind hasn’t afloat committed.

I’ll springiness you an example:

Consider nan past clip you needed to pee urgently… erstwhile you were wholly focused connected uncovering nan bathroom. I’m judge those urgent emails and messages could wait. In fact, you were astir apt truthful focused connected it that it was difficult to divert your attraction distant from it.

What is nan deciding factor? There was nary uncertainty astir it. Your mind, your assemblage —- were wholly dedicated to answering nature’s call.

However, this was a determination made by your subconscious mind. Consider bringing this determination to nan forefront connected a regular ground and proactively activating this type of focus.

The existent cardinal is really to usage nan distraction to scope into your mind truthful you tin perpetrate to a determination easy without a doubt. In short, use each distraction to fortify your focus.

To study more, cheque retired my focus-boosting guide: How to Focus And Stay Sharp (A Comprehensive Guide)


We tin beryllium easy distracted for a assortment of causes, and each personification will person different reasons why they are distracted. The guidelines origin of each distractions, however, is wrong us, which includes antagonistic thoughts and intelligence discomforts that origin america to want to flight reality.

Distractions tin person a important effect not only connected productivity but besides connected our life fulfilment by making it difficult to attraction connected tasks and goals that are genuinely important to us.

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To flooded distractions and find focus, you must first place nan sources of your distractions and past return steps to fortify your focus.

Featured photograph credit: Nubelson Fernandes via unsplash.com

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