Intention or Distraction

by Productivity

Would you rather listen instead? Click here for a the 16-minute audio recording

Is it technically a distraction if you procrastinate by doing something with intention?

“Mistakes repeated more than once is a decision.” – Paulo Coehlo

When we get sucked into our email, social media, or shopping, it's often an impulse or habit. We're encouraged by technologies ability to lure us in with never-ending feeds, clickbait headlines, and a dopamine response we can't ignore.

When we purposely divert our attention to Instagram, LinkedIn, or The New York Times, is it really a distraction since we are doing it intentionally? 

Social Media

Distraction: a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else. 

If we're choosing to do it, we're intentionally scrolling through Netflix or reading through Amazon reviews. Netflix isn't turning itself on. Amazon isn't forcing us to continue reading.

That game you're playing ends, but it's SOOOO easy to start another one. The friction is almost non-existent.

Distraction moves us away from a goal. Traction moves us closer to a goal. What's the commonality? 

Action

Often we own our distractions. We have the game on our phone, we don't have limits set for social media, we refuse to put a Do Not Disturb sign up when we're in Deep Focus mode. We're unwilling to create an environment where the things in our control are limited.

What is a distraction? 

The Amazon truck pulling up outside. I can't control that. The chatbox screaming at me because my company won't let us use Do Not Disturb. Someone knocking on the door to the phone booth at my co-working space.

Distractions.

If you're finding ways to sabotage yourself, what's so hard about that task that's causing you to do it? It's way too easy for me to get sucked into my inbox, so I use Inbox Pause to send emails and don't see them except when I unpause my inbox. I use Freedom to keep me from going to LinkedIn every time I think of something I want to check, and instead, keep a running list and go to LinkedIn 1-2 times a day instead.

What is one thing you would like to cut back on that doesn't move you toward your goal, whatever that goal is? What can you do to stop that impulse? Do you need to install an app that physically blocks you from it? Do you need to invest in a door hanger or sign? With food cravings, can you force yourself to wait five minutes? It's only five minutes, right?

The next time you spend more minutes on something than you would have liked to, think about how that is your intention. How would you approach that differently next time? Have an action plan, and remove that distraction.

want to be the first to hear health-powered productivity tips? subscribe here.

Your Weekender Snapshot and Tim Ferriss’s Five Bullet Friday are my favorite emails I receive.
jim west

Principal and Managing Director, GFF Architects