07 Mar Addicted to distractions.
It seems to me that one of the most common cause for unhappiness and lack of time for the things that matter to us is the addiction to distraction.
Focus and mobile device use.
Everyone knows we should focus on our goals, relationships, work, etc. However, focusing is very difficult when we are too busy scrolling through Instagram, watching Netflix or generally spending time on tasks that don’t move us forward.
Don’t get me wrong, these things are fine on their own and when done in moderation. You have to admit, however, that you sometimes find yourself scrolling through your phone without actually having a reason or getting any enjoyment out of it. It’s actually scary how much time in a day we can spend in pointless activities without even realizing it. If you install one of those time tracking apps on your phone I bet you will find out that you are spending more than 3h a day using your mobile device. On average studies have shown that for the last couple of years our mobile device usage has gone up massively.
Without even realizing it you have scrolled on your phone for 3+ hours of your day. Time that could have been spent doing something more productive. By productive I don’t mean work. It could be meditation, family time, reading or enjoying a hobby.
Distractions are not limited to digital interactions.
Sometimes you avoid doing the things that matter and it’s not for the lack of trying. It’s just easier to talk to a friendly customer, then to tell your boss that your sales are behind and everyone needs to step up their game. Maybe you allow your colleagues to walk into your office and talk about the weekend instead of focusing on an important task.
These things are not limited to work situations either. It’s easier and more fun to go out with friends, than to stay at home and focus on aligning your goals, reading, cleaning your home or spending time with the kids. Maybe you have to dump your lazy/no good boyfriend/girlfriend, but the sex is too damn good. Whatever hard or important thing must be done, there is always an easier and more pleasant short-term activity.
Distractions are a symptom.
I suffer from all of the aforementioned issues as well. Hell, I want to produce more content, improve my website or read more books, but I keep finding myself watching YouTube or Googling random things. It seems whatever you do this is hard to escape.
Most people (me included) don’t focus on the things they want to get done because they can be intimidating or monumental. Whatever the important task is, it involves a lot of complexity and therefore we subconsciously avoid starting it at all. Building a business, having a tough conversation with your wife/husband, leaving that awful job… these are all things that are good for us, but we’d rather put off. Therefore we go back to watching Netflix and remain firmly in the established routine. The sad thing is that it is also a circle of self-loathing. I don’t even enjoy watching YouTube when I know I have things to do, but yet I still do it. Frustrating!
Why is this happening?
There are more and more things online that are constantly trying to get and keep your attention. With today’s targeting capabilities it is very easy for platforms to offer you content that engages you. Engagement is money for companies like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and almost all forms of online entertainment. So you can see why they are trying to keep you online constantly. You need to be wary of this as it potentially can impact your quality of life.
Studies have shown that social media and phone use can lead to increased risks of depression and anxiety.
Read more here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2167702617723376
The most important step is to firstly be honest with yourself. Why am I avoiding this? Why am I spending so much time being distracted on the internet? If you dig deep enough you may discover a deep rooted fear of failure and so you prefer not to start at all. Maybe you will find out your real life is boring you and you crave more adventure. Whatever it is, the process of fixing your addiction to distractions involves asking yourself hard questions and answering honestly. This is a process that may take months or even years, before you discover the real answer.
Yeah, its hard and I wish I had a simple answer like, just switch off your phone and stop doing it, but that would just be eliminating the symptom and not the root cause.