You’ve been incredibly busy, but at the end of the day, you feel unfulfilled. Do you recognize that? Be honest, are you tempted to be distracted? You pay more attention to social media than to the tasks that contribute towards your goals. When your phone rings, you drop everything you’re doing. You follow the news closely. You may enjoy doing these things, but it is very distracting. In this article, I’ll show you how to resist the temptation of distraction, making you more productive and effective in your life.
In my book ‘How to become a game changer’ I write as a no-nonsense coach about digital dementia. Digital dementia is about the human brain that has only a limited capacity. Think of it like a battery for your mobile phone. The more you use your mobile, the quicker it becomes empty, the same goes for your brain. Spending time in the morning on social media, checking the news, and other activities that don’t make you more successful may seem efficient at the time of doing them but in fact, you immediately attack your brain’s capacity. Do this often enough during the day and before you know it your brain’s capacity is so low that you will not get the most important activities of the day done. This digital dementia awakens a monster in you, the monster called distraction.
Your brain craves ‘simple shit’
One of my previous articles I recommend you read is titled simplicity instead of complexity. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that simplicity and simple, carefree things are the same. Simplicity stands for smart, useful solutions. Simple, carefree things …’simple shit’ are things that are so simple, they are also useless. When your brain functions at a low capacity, there is immediately the temptation to find distraction. Cleaning your mailbox and mindless scrolling on social media then seem very useful…
But you know, that’s an ego trip, that ‘busy’ feels good for your ego. Every notification, every message and phone call provide small dopamine hits, moments of happiness. The strategy of social media channels is based entirely on this. By continuously giving you hits, you keep scrolling, because you can no longer do without these dopamine hits and the attempted distraction is successful.
Get rid of ego tripping
If you want to take good care of your brain and take your productivity and effectiveness to the next level, put an end to that ego tripping immediately. Really, it’s easier than you think.
# 1 Create your own focus bubble
Just like everyone else, you have the ‘seed of human genius’. Due to the lack of distraction you feed the elite brain or the ‘seed of human genius’. Seed of human genius? When we are not distracted, our prefrontal cortex is turned off for a short time. The prefrontal cortex is involved in cognitive and emotional functions such as decision making, planning, social behaviour and impulse control. When the prefrontal cortex isn’t working, we unlock our own brain pharmacy that takes care of transient hypofrontality, dopamine, serotonin, and our brain waves go from Beta, to Alpha, to Theta. You also experience this as the ‘flow’ where time seems to fly by.
Interesting, but what does all that mean?
- Transient Hypofrontality: The neurobiological state of genius that we ALL have, but so few know how to access it.
- Dopamine: A substance that is part of the brain’s reward system. It makes us feel satisfied and rewarded.
- Serotonin: Sufficient serotonin production in the brain helps us to feel positive, happy, calm and safe.
- Beta: ‘Fast’ activity.
- Alpha: Resting state of the brain.
- Theta: Gateway to learning, memory and intuition.
You see, without distraction you have everything you need to get into the flow and to be able to work on your life’s work to the maximum.
# 2 Get of your mobile phone
Have you noticed that wherever you look, people are busy with their mobiles? In a restaurant, during meetings, in the car and so on, people are addicted to their mobile phone, the blocker of in-depth conversations. Get rid of that phone. What, get rid of it? Yes, you read that correctly. Put that phone away when communicating with other people. There is nothing more rude and disrespectful than having your mobile in sight ready to distract you when communicating with others.
How do you prevent your mobile phone from controlling you?
- Only use WhatsApp, SMS and other messaging apps privately and check at fixed times whether you have messages, for example once in the evening.
- Silence your mobile phone 24/7, without notifications, and when possible on airplane mode.
- Don’t answer your phone 99 percent of the time you receive a call. Schedule fixed times when people can reach you and when someone calls outside of these times, you do not answer. If it is really important, people can figure out how to reach you and often it is not that urgent.
- Download an app blocker that blocks certain applications for a certain period of time so that you cannot log in to them.
- Put your mobile out of sight or exchange your luxury model for a Nokia 3310 without applications that are constantly trying to seduce you.
- Are you aware that social media has only one main task: to attract your attention so that you continuously use their service. They do this cleverly by activating the reward system in your brain. Another reason to put your mobile away.
#3 Start with the most important activities
In the morning your brain capacity is still at its highest. If you want to perform well, you would do well to start with your most important activities first so that you have at least completed them. These are activities such as your ‘one-thing’, your ‘top three projects’ and your ‘five most important activities’. You can read more about this in my book That’s how you become a game changer.
“Yes, but Wouter, I’m an evening person.”
If you think you are most effective and productive in the evening, then you can do your most important tasks in the evening. I just don’t know any successful people who are at their best in the evening. I know that my energy and therefore brain capacity is at its highest until 14:00. Because I get up at 5:00 am, I do my main activities first and then my less important activities. I stop working no later than 3:30 PM and then I do an intensive workout. If I notice that before 2:00 PM I am tempted to scroll mindlessly, this is a signal for a power nap or that I should do activities that require less brain capacity.
Seduction to distraction is a signal
If you allow yourself to be seduced into distraction, there is always a reason for this and thus it is a signal that something is not going well.
In situations like this, I ask myself the following simple question: Who do I want to be and how does that person act?
Here are two more characteristics that will help you to resist the temptation of that distraction monster;
Digital dementia can be a signal, but it may also be that you do not have enough discipline in your life. The great thing is that discipline is like a muscle. You can train a muscle and the more often you train it, the stronger it becomes. We all sometimes don’t feel like getting started with a certain activity. Do not give in to that feeling, but train that discipline muscle by doing it anyway.
I am well aware that even successful entrepreneurs, directors and managers are often enticed by distraction. This is why they choose a no-nonsense coach such as me. Because achieving goals does not only require discipline, but also commitment. I keep them to their agreements and if they do not keep their agreements, they will be hearing from me…
Are you done with the temptation of distraction?
Are you one of the five percent who will immediately start applying the above advice?
Take a look at the two options below and choose what suits you:
- Order my book: How to become a game-changer – No-nonsense coaching to an extraordinary life.
- Immerse yourself in the possibilities of coaching by me.