So, here’s what I have learnt, even as I work on a post on the blog about the best productivity boosting tools online.
You can try every trick in the book to overcome distraction, but none of them will truly work unless you understand a few fundamental secrets.
1. You have to find something more interesting to do
For me, that’s writing (either here or on the blog). Or it could be designing pins for my Pinterest account.
See, the truth is, if you are working on something that you deeply enjoy and find engaging, your mind gets into a state of flow or deep work.
When you are in that state, there is no scope for distraction.
Both these tasks (writing and pin design) are independent of the next fundamental secret.
2. You have to completely let go of validation
I know. It’s not easy. And I’d be lying if I said I’ve completely overcome it too.
But something happened last week that made me remove the Instagram app from my phone.
This isn’t new, by the way. I’ve done it many times in the past and in fact, I’ve done it every weekend, for as long as I can remember.
Personally, the Instagram app itself wasn’t the problem; it was how I had begun to use it, particularly the Stories feature that led to my undoing.
Without realising it, I fell into the validation trap and when I posted something absolutely frivolous like reaching a certain number of followers on my stories and got zero reactions, I started wondering if I even mattered.
Fortunately, the next morning brought me to my senses and also helped me understand that the app was causing more harm than good.
So I uninstalled the app AND announced to my subscribers and followers that I wouldn’t be using it again till 2021. (not that it matters; but public accountability appears to help with personal challenges)
And this time was different. When I removed the app, I wasn’t thinking about the next time I’d have to install it again! THAT makes a world of difference to affecting my levels of distraction.
I have not felt the urge or the impulse to re-install it at all in the last 5 days.
3. You have to eliminate temptation
Do you know what worked when I decided to give up eating white sugar in February, 2019? I removed white sugar from my kitchen pantry. I just stopped stocking it.
Naturally, when the need for a sweetener came about, I didn’t have it in order to reach for it. So I switched to brown sugar, jaggery or honey as substitutes.
18 months later, I still don’t eat refined, white sugar.
Similarly, the only way to not get distracted is to not have the tool of distraction at hand.
In my case, it was the Instagram app. In your case, it could be the Twitter app, Facebook app, heck, maybe your phone.
- There’s a standing joke at home these days that I have to call my phone to find out where I’ve left it. Because I barely use the phone except for making phone calls and checking text messages. Everything else happens on the laptop.
What works for you, to curb the distraction habit online?