The Distraction Addiction

Wow!  That’s quite a thought, isn’t it?  Would you consider yourself addicted to distractions?  If we’re honest, I think many of us would have to concede the lure of distraction is something we must fight in our lives regularly.  If you’re part of Gen Y, there’s a high probability you’re addicted to distraction, and you may not even realize it!

I wrote not too long ago about how I was trying to stop multitasking, but I admit, that was a much loftier goal in theory than a practice I have followed consistently.

So often we use the term “addiction” to refer to things like being an alcoholic or a smoker; or we may joke about being addicted to coffee, chocolate, or caffeine in general.

But about about distractions?

Even as I write this post, I am distracted by a ding alerting me to a new Facebook message; another tone sounds to alert me to a new email, my phone notifies me of a text message demanding my attention, and my kids call down from their bedroom to request another toy or drink of water before they take their naps.

There is always something to distract us; we must choose to actively focus on our task at hand!

I read an interesting thought recently in Leaders Eat Last about this idea.  Suppose you were flying on an airplane; you’d expect the pilot and co-pilot to be highly trained, skilled, and focused on flying the plane well!

However, the pilots are not alone in their task to get us to our destination safely.  On the ground, in a dull, colorless building, is an individual whose responsibility includes monitoring the air traffic as we fly overhead.  Would we be okay knowing that the air traffic controller had their cell phone nearby?  Though they were not allowed to take phone calls, suppose they could browse social media, respond to text messages, tracking plane activity in between responding to emails; would we feel safe flying if that were the case?

Of course not!

We would insist that they give their full attention and complete focus to the safety of the planes in their sector, and rightfully so!  We would expect their complete concentration to be on their work, which in this case includes the plane in which we are flying…but do we demand this scrutiny in their job simply because our life depends on them doing their job well?

It is time for us to step up to the plate and give our best attention and focus in all that we do!  Instead of rating an air traffic controller’s job as more important because our lives depend on their performance, perhaps we could put that level of attention and care into our daily jobs.  Our actions are important, even if our daily tasks appear less vital than directing the flight paths of airplanes!

Too often we treat our responsibilities as insignificant or unimportant.  We allow distractions to rob us of time and energy.

So, how can we combat this?

Let’s start by choosing to focus.  As Jim Elliot stated, “Wherever you are, be all there.”

Focus on your job when it’s time to work.  Pay attention when you’re talking on the phone, without trying to check your email or reading a memo.  Look at a co-worker when they are speaking to you.  Focus on your children when it’s time to be playing with them.  Put your phone away when it’s date night with your spouse.  Focus on whatever task you have to do so that you can get it done quickly and effectively, which will then free you up to move on to the next duty.  You may even find more enjoyment as you give yourself wholly to the moment in which you are living!

Do you find that you struggle with constant distractions in life?  What have you done (or what will you do) to stay more focused?  How will you fight the distraction addiction?



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