Working through Distraction
Rebekah Myers, student, School for Graduate Studies
June 16, 2014
Distraction is an issue that can consume even the most skilled and dedicated individuals. It is inevitable that distraction will creep its way into our lives, but how can it be managed when it may already be negatively impacting one’s life? The advice to the problem of distraction often is, ‘Get through it the best you can,’ but it rarely is that simple. An honest and proactive approach may prove to be the most useful when working through distraction.
Laura Schwecherl suggests in her article, 13 Ways to Beat Distractions and Stay Focused at Work, that identifying the root of the distraction is the best place to start. “Pinpoint the problem. What causes you to lose focus? Is it fatigue, hunger or a Twitter addition? Figuring out the issue is the first step toward trying to fix it.” It would be unlikely that someone would not truly know why they are distracted, and consequently, this approach will only work for those who can be honest with themselves and their situation. While the reasons behind the distraction may be a clear-cut answer for some, others may find themselves overwhelmed with countless issues and may feel powerless to stop it.
The most proactive approach to working through distraction is to develop skills to avoid distraction in the first place. There are a variety of action plans that one can implement, but there is not a general answer that will work for everyone. For example, some people are not bothered by noise and interruptions when they are trying to study, but may feel they are unable to focus on their school work because of one bad day at work. The solution to avoiding distractions may end with a few quick fixes for some, or it can turn into a life-long work in progress for others.
Students may feel they fall prey to distraction more so than other people. In the whole scope of life, a higher education may be necessary for our success, but it cannot be achieved at the expense of what is necessary for our survival. As a result, students must juggle their academic obligations in addition to their everyday responsibilities, which can be incredibly challenging. Concentration is the worst enemy of distraction, and sometimes concentration requires practice. Depending on where distraction has settled into your life, there are a variety of ways to practice concentration that can be useful. In the article Developing Better Concentration, Terrie Heinrich Rizzo describes a variety of concentration techniques that can apply to many aspects life, not just school.
“Do you make careless mistakes throughout your day? Losing belongings? Missing deadlines?
‘Intend to Concentrate- Humans tend to do what they tell themselves to do, so actively tell yourself to concentrate.’
Is your distraction attacking a specific area of life? Work? School?
‘Maximize Your Peaks- Improve concentration by scheduling projects that require full focus and mental ability during personal peak periods. Plan more routine tasks for your lower-wattage times.’”
Whether distraction has already taken over your focus, or you are simply trying to keep it from happening, it is critical to be honest and proactive. Distraction can have an ugly way of taking over other aspects of life and manifest into something bigger if you simply try to ignore it.