Digital distraction is the leading problem of today’s human being at the workplace and home. On our desktops, tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches we are constantly exposed to messages, notifications, reminders, and pop-ups and it is becoming increasingly difficult to focus on the task at hand and avoid delays.

We all are aware that spending too much time on digital devices can adversely affect our work and personal life, but technology is so pervasive today that it is really hard to stay away from our phones and other devices that cause distraction.

So, what is Digital Distraction?

Well, it’s like, you are working in your office and suddenly your smartphone, which is already in silent mode, blinks and something pop up. Now you have the urge to first take a look at your phone, pausing the work in hand. You got distracted!

Similarly, when you are at home, instead of spending quality time with your family and friends, you will find yourself busy with your phone, tablet or sitting in front of the Television.

Believe it or not but knowingly or unknowingly we all are digitally distracted.

Now, what can be best counted in distractions?

Digital distractions come in all shapes and sizes. Be it constant bombardment of notifications from the apps, a friend waving on a desktop chat window, time to time messages and phone calls, your favorite game and web series addiction, vibrations from smartwatches, etc. We do not realize, but every other minute we are a victim of digital distraction.

With these distractions, we actively waste time and energy on superficial interactions that keep us busy and at the same time disturb our work and life balance. How? Here are a few examples –

  • All night you are busy on your digital devices and do not sleep. The next day you are not able to focus on your work and miss deadlines because now you are feeling sleepy. And if this is the story of every night then you become a victim of depression. Severe results could be job loss.
  • You are sitting with your family but are constantly checking your phone and become impatient when you do not find it around. You do not pay attention to what your spouse just said. This leads to domestic fights.
  • While driving you are distracted by a notification sound you pick up your phone and start replying to the message. You lose control of your vehicle and meet with an accident.

While smart use of technology can improve our knowledge, concentration, and efficiency, over-indulgence in the same can diminish our ability to maintain focus at work and deteriorate our health. 

The reality is that with growing dependence on technology we cannot disconnect from it but it is necessary to establish control over its use and develop a more conscious and efficient way of using it so that it can not distract us.

With that in mind, I am sharing a few ways on how to shut down the digital distractions and lead a happy, healthy, creative, purpose-driven life in this increasingly tech-centric world. 

Turn off irrelevant notifications 

Notifications play a major role when it comes to digital distraction. With so many apps and softwares installed on devices, we are regularly disturbed by their notifications. 

University of California’s study shows that once you are indulged in checking notifications, it can take a good 23 minutes to get back to the task at hand. To limit the temptation, turn off all the non essential or irrelevant notifications. These notifications could be software update notifications, social media chat, games, new offers, unnecessary emails, etc. Enter the “Do Not Disturb” mode and leave the sound volume on only for urgent calls from important contacts on your white list. 

Personally, I leave notifications on for emails only. Because I do not want to be interrupted by every like or comment received on my social media accounts. 

Disable vibration, Go DND

Studies have proved that even if we put our devices on silent mode/sound off or put screen-side down, the constant familiar buzz will continue to distract. That buzzing will make you think about its source or content, even when you don’t look over to see what it could be. Somewhere you will be in a hurry to finish what you are working on or leave it in the middle and quickly check that buzz.

We might not realize but switching from vibrate to silent no- vibrate mode can help us get less distracted. When you don’t feel you don’t react! It is as simple as that. If you feel the buzz in your pocket or at the table, it sends a signal that your brain just can’t ignore.

Engage in talks with people around you 

Most people have precisely started using technology to socialize. We tend to forget we have a bunch of friends and people around us with whom we can talk to.

Ask someone what he/she did in the last 15 mins, the answer you will get – I was on the Internet, television, video games, etc. 

So, what to do?

Break up with your digital devices and start socializing with people around you. 

At the workplace, whenever you start feeling exhausted, do a quick chit chat with your colleagues over a cup of coffee, go for a short walk, discuss work, etc. At home, spend time with your loved ones, go out for dinner, play with your kids, extend a helping hand in household work, read books/newspapers, etc. 

This will keep you away from the digital distraction. You won’t feel the need to socialize digitally once you are connected with people around you.

Set a time table 

This reminds me of my school time. Remember how we all used to stick to that strict time table. It is time to get back on track! Keep yourself on a schedule and track your time.

Most people check their phone every 15 minutes or less, even if they have no alerts or notifications. 

So how to get rid of this anxiety?

Set a time table for yourself. Make sure that the first thing after getting up in the morning is not checking your phone or other e-devices that distracts you, neither should it be the last thing you see at night. Finish your routine work and then allow yourself to check all modes of e-communication. But then again do not forget to shut everything down and get back to work. 

Maybe initially in every 1 hour you can take a short e-break to give yourself one or two minutes for a tech check in. Gradually increase this to 2 hours and so on.

Keep the digital devices at a distance/ out of reach 

Tired of trying all the above strategies? 

Then maybe it’s time for you to create a distance between you and your digital devices to lessen the amount of distraction. As per dscout on an average we touch our phones 2617 times a day. 

Isn’t that shocking!

Try practicing keeping your digital devices out of your reach. For instance, do not carry your smartphone in your pocket or do not keep it right in front of you when you are at work or in a meeting, instead keep it in your bag. Maybe once in a while you can check for important calls and texts. Similarly at home when you are with friends and family, try not to sit in a room with television or PS4. This will help combat the distraction. 

Summary

In order to maintain a healthy work-life balance, it is essential to draw clear boundaries between you and digital distractions. People who are regularly exposed to multiple content sources at the same time tend not to memorize important information and accomplish their ongoing tasks by focusing on one thing. With discipline, self-control and the right approach, fighting digital distractions may not be as difficult as you think. 

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