Updated: 4 days ago
In this blog post, we will discuss how to stop self-distraction and procrastination. Self-distraction can be defined as the act of diverting one's attention away from a desired task or activity to focus on something else. Procrastination is an action taken by someone who deliberately delays or postpones something that they are supposed to do.
The two often go hand in hand because people use distractions like social media, games, and movies to avoid their work for later. In fact, many studies have shown that it takes around 25 minutes to get back into the original task after being distracted for more than 5 minutes! So what can you do, you ask...
Back to that in a minute but first let's look at why we distract ourselves in the first place. Is it because we are terrified of what might happen if we succeed or simply feel incompetent....!
It is known that the most creative people are the most distracted. This could be a combination of the two 1) They have very high standards that nothing they create will ever be good enough 2) They are actually scared of what might happen if they actually succeed, become famous etc.
They cannot begin to imagine a life away from what they're used to. They also do not want to face criticism.
This is where the first problem of self-distraction starts. We start to avoid doing anything but then end up feeling worse when we allow life to pass us by and miss out on opportunities for success.
Lack of Motivation leads to procrastination
With inner conflict comes procrastination. Having two opposing ideas in our heads leads to distraction and procrastination. The distraction is often used as a coping mechanism for dealing with fear, anxiety or uncertainty.
Procrastination can also be caused by external factors such as deadlines, physical discomfort or lack of focus. These are all things that don't get in the way if we have fully embraced what it is we want as an outcome.
Faith and Certainty
Fear builds up due to a lack of certainty. The certainty that everything will work out. The certainty that you're good enough. The certainty that your work will appeal to others. The certainty that you're not alone in this world with everyone thinking they know what's best for you and your life.
The uncertainty can be reduced by asking yourself, 'What do I want?' What is the end goal? We have to first find acceptance of who we are before we can hope to change anything else. Once we have figured that out, do not wait to work out an entire plan but start right where you are.
Every single one of us has the power to change our lives so long as we are willing to see what is in front of us with faith that it will work out for our best interest.
Do not let fear control your life or tell you who to be. Be brave enough to ask yourself what you truly want and if you'd settle for less if you didn't pursue it.
Now let's look at some of the tools that aid self-distraction. I am sure most of these will not come as a surprise:
1) Mobile phone (Cell-phone)
The mobile phone is probably the biggest distractor of our time.
This is because our phones are always with us, and we use them to fill the time in between tasks or when waiting for something.
They also serve as a distraction from boredom by scrolling through Facebook feeds or watching YouTube videos about any topic that shows up on our feed. This creates a vicious cycle of procrastination and self-distraction as well as an illusion of doing something.
Television has been here for such a long time that it has become a part of our lives. Well most of us. To many, television doesn’t come across as a distractor.
It is one of the top five items they want to get before moving into a new home.
We have been conditioned to believe that most of what it broadcasts is vital to our own existence.
We also watch TV in order to escape our lives. To momentarily get away from the uncomfortable reality of not only ourselves but for other people as well. We spend hours watching and waiting for new episodes or series plus anything in between.
3) Recreational drugs.
While they can contribute to our social life and enjoyment, they can also distract us from what is/could be.
They can be used to mask issues underlying our lives and responsibilities. They can take people away from reality, but they also prevent us from seeing it for what is really going on in life.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert in that area as such wouldn't comment on how best to go about this major distractor but would suggest a well-trained person for advice.
And when it's all done? The cycle continues once again. If we added up the time we spend watching telly or browsing social channels, we would be astonished what it totals up to.
By the time we recognise what's happening, it can be difficult to break our habits.
But there are ways you can help yourself do this and they're not all that hard to implement.
A few things worth trying: unplugging your TV from one room so it's out of sight; logging into social platforms a couple of times a day plus using a timer on social media and having the discipline come off when the timer goes off.
If you absolutely have to watch the telly, it could be coupled with other activities such as while cooking, cleaning or other house chores.
Apparently, it can take from 25 minutes to two hours to gain momentum. The biggest challenge is getting started in the first place then gradually building on that. For some people, it takes them to be under pressure to get started while others are self-starters who can start from small tasks then gradually build on them. I happen to fall in the second category.
Motivation or lack of is usually the defining factor. Now not everyone is motivated.
Side note: I use the word motivation lightly for I believe it can only take you so far. What we ultimately need is some sort of inspiration but that is a story for another day.
Now, if you are not feeling motivated, there are some simple things that can be done. One of them is to break down the task into smaller parts and then get started on one part at a time. You could even set a timer for each task and take a mini three to five-minute break at the end of a task, celebrate having accomplished that task before moving on to the next.
The brain is a funny tool that once it figures out what is going on, will program itself to serve you on that pace.
Another method would be to set up an achievable goal or deadline for motivation purposes. If it doesn't work out as planned, fear not, set another one until when you find that sweet spot. Be sure not to bite more than you can chew as you will only end up with burn-out.
This is how you'll get started and eventually build momentum. The rest will fall in place and inspiration will kick in.
Conclusion: It is important to identify and overcome self-distractors, fear, and create a daily plan in small chunks. Celebrate every achievement with something you enjoy doing.
Building momentum will help keep your motivation high when things get tough. If you want more information on how we can work together to achieve success through these principles, you can now book a free consultation.