Manali Desai Everyday distractions that divert us every day May 14, 2018

A WhatsApp notification rings a bell like a wake-up call in the morning. “Hmm, must concentrate on work”, I remind myself and am successful for full ten minutes before my curiosity (and my addiction to my phone) kicks in and I start checking the message. Not important at all times, not at least something which if not read would have been a matter of life or death.

But yes, this is usually how I end up after my phone beeps because of WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and various others; ultimately forgetting for what reason I picked up the phone in the first place and getting lost in the virtual world for the next few minutes until I get back to the real world.

Every time this happens, it takes me some time to realise that I need to get back to that actually matters; the real world and more importantly, to WORK when at WORK. Distractions take away the presence of mind within seconds and divert to another which takes mind to settle again.

God forbids if I come across something disturbing like, “Ten killed in a mass bombing attack,” it affects my mood so much that I end up searching for better or positive updates, and God only knows where that would take me and how long it would take for me to return to the ‘work mode’ after this.

To be productive and creative, and to stay productive and creative, the productivity and creativity theorems ask for attention, alias focus!

I wondered if this feeling was exclusive to me or it was something everyone else has experienced too. So I asked a friend about it and he said, “For me, it’s the FOMO, you know, the feeling of being left out. The constant fear that what if I’m ignorant towards something but everyone knows! This makes me check my social media accounts every few minutes.”

To stay updated from one end is destroying the productivity on another end at the same moment, is what we often miss to comprehend.

So are we rather than being content about being connected and being technologically advanced becoming slaves to such distractions? Oh! And also let’s not kid ourselves by approving that we can ‘multitask’ anytime anywhere any day. Every task is not the same, every task doesn’t go by the same patterns followed each time. Otherwise it might turn out, “Not about doing multiple things at one time but rather doing multiple things wrong at one time”.

There is no doubt that distractions were always there, I’m sure. It more has become every now and then, thanks to the internet. I had a discussion with my father about it and he said, “Of course, we got distracted from work too. We worked in a team so sometimes a team member would initiate some non-work related conversation and off, we all went! Or say if I got a call from home or some friend that meant I would be off-work for some time too. But this was rare, like maybe once during the working hours or sometimes not even that.”

Once in a day! The life has never been easy but little fewer complications made my life sound a mess. I can barely keep my hands (and mind) off from my phone and the digital world for an hour! An article in The Economist suggests, might vary with studies you pick, that ‘smartphone-users touch their device somewhere between twice a minute to once every seven minutes’.

Maybe it affects people in the creative fields more I thought as I pondered over the subject so I asked my uncle, who, also is an editor for one of the country’s leading magazines and he said, “The problem with digital distractions is that you can’t shut them off easily. Sure, I used to get distracted too when at work, even if let’s say I was writing a piece in the solitude of my room, there were people in the home and if I were in the office, there was the constant din and hum of people around. I like it quiet and all writers do, but these human dins actually made me feel good as they killed my phobia of loneliness and in fact, it was creatively helpful too! But today the thought of having hundreds of unread emails and chats makes us, including me, jittery and takes us away from the task at hand and far away from the creative world. This is not only different but deeply damaging.“

“Despite being alone, we are never alone.”

He made a valid point and not to mention the fact it was difficult, almost impossible to shut out this noise. Yes, noise is what these distractions are after all. And let’s not forget, for an instance, the basic necessity of writers, they prefer and in fact, they enjoy, is solitude. Ask any writer and they’d agree. However, thanks to these digital distractions, despite being alone, we are never alone!

It’s not all bad though. For introverts, the social media offers a platform to converse, speak out their minds and even connect with people, but in the end, they prove to be poisonous towards the creative streak. And also, the introvert you see in the virtual world is not you, rather your [alter] ego which, as quoted here, is not the voice that murmurs itself onto the page or the screen when you’re creating.

There are too many things that enhance our creativity and productivity, and there are a lot many “everyday” things that distract us from both every day.

How then does one escape it? The answer lies in the beginning! What if I don’t check the notification every single time? Because every notification that pops up when I’m working is a kill pill to my productivity and more so to my creativity, only if I check. If only! The ‘only if’ delivers the solution then.

Hey, there? This article has been picked to be republished under the ‘Picks’ series. It is a step further for the content to be contagious to make it counted yet again and for the ones who missed it!

A preserver of my thoughts and a nurturer of self-happiness, I am Manali, a believer in all's well that ends well. I cherish the act of writing and the process of thinking. Loner to some and warm to others, I swing between moods based on my hunger pangs. Traveler, reader,music lover and foodie are some adjectives which can be used to describe me.

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