Why do I get so easily distracted?

Why do I get so easily distracted?

Why do I get so easily distracted? currently, this question is in everybody’s mind. In today’s digital world where we are completely surrounded by the things which are the main cause of our distractions like the internet, social media, youtube, and many more.

But the other side of the digital world is, it is making our life easy, providing us a lot of opportunities to connect with people, it is helping us in career/business, etc. So it’s not right to blame these things for our distractions.

Because humans have been facing this problem of a distraction even before the invention of these things. That means the real reason why we get easily distracted is something different.

That is what we are going to discuss in this article and along with that we also going to talk about how to stop getting distracted easily and control our attention to easily focus on our work. Let’s begin…


Why do we get so easily distracted?

In simple words, distraction is something that grabs our attention easily. Throughout the day while doing some important work like study or office work, there are a lot of things that grab our attention easily like youtube videos, social media, internet browsing, etc. 

This happens because these things are more interesting than our daily work and our mind loves the interesting things. See According to famous author Nir Eyal, before understanding the distraction we have to understand what distraction is not?

It is not a lack of focus or concentration. It is actually traction. There are two opposite words one is a distraction and the other is traction. Traction is any action that pulls you towards what you want. Things that you are doing with intent.

On the other hand, Distraction is anything that pulls you away from what you plan to do with intent. For example – you are studying your favorite subject with full passion this is traction and suddenly you got one notification on your mobile phone and you clicked on it to check that notification then that is the distraction.

So the point here is anything that we are doing and if it is aligned with our goal then that is perfect no problem with that. But the moment we start doing things that are not aligned with our goal then that is the problem of distractions. 

When we think about why we get distracted we need to understand the root cause of this problem by going in deeper. We face this problem on daily basis it doesn’t matter how passionately you are working or even if you know what is important for you. Still, your mind gets distracted.

The real question we need to ask ourselves is why we do what we do? what is the fundamental motivation that drives us? The most common answer people will give is they do things or get distracted because they want more pleasure in their life by avoiding pain. 

However, neurologically speaking this is not 100% true. The real reason is we get distracted when we feel uncomfortable. It’s not about we want more pleasures, it’s all about feeling discomfort. This is true at body level as well as mental level, we get distracted when we feel discomfort.

At the body level, when the body feels discomfort it prompts us to take certain actions to fix that discomfort or uncomfortable state. For example – we wear a jacket when we feel cold,  we drink cold water when we feel warm which means whenever our body feels uncomfortable it send the signal to our mind to take action and fix this.

Then we take action like wearing a jacket or drinking cold water. These examples are about how the body reacts when it feels discomfort. So these examples are about physiological responses. The same is true at the psychological level.

For example – when we are lonely we check our mobile phones or social media, when we are bored we watch movies or web series, also when we feel anxious while working then we prefer to chat with others. etc. 

In all these examples, you take action like checking phones, watching movies, and chatting with others when you feel uncomfortable at mind level like feeling lonely, anxious, and bored.

The point here is this feeling of discomfort comes within, it’s not external. These behaviors are triggered by some kind of internal emotional uncomfortable state that we seek to escape.

So the root cause of distractions is the feeling of discomfort and all it starts within. The moment you feel discomfort your mind starts searching for some kind of comfortable thing that will make your feel comfortable.

This is nothing but a distraction when we consider this in the context of our daily work. You can’t stop feeling uncomfortable in uncertain situations because that’s natural, what you can do is you can use some techniques to reduce its impact. Let’s see those techniques…

Read more – Can humans multitask?


5 powerful ways to stop getting distracted –

So all our distraction starts with the feeling of discomfort, most of the time we check our mobile phone continuously just because we are feeling bored, we eat unhealthy food in most cases when we feel stressed and anxious.

That means whenever we are in a state of boredom, stress, and anxiety, our minds feel more discomfort in such situations. At that time our mind gets easily distracted because by switching the focus on other stuff our mind gets relief from the discomfort.

The techniques or ways that we are going to discuss now help you overcome the feeling of discomfort and when you attack directly on the root cause of distraction i.e. discomfort, then the problem of distraction will automatically get resolved. Right!


1. 10-minute rule to stop getting distracted – 

Whenever you say to yourself in mind that I am not going to do this work, the number of times you try to control yourself for not doing that work, the urge to do that work increases in you.

In order to fight distractions, most people do the same thing. They try to forcefully focus on their work which is a wrong practice. The idea of the 10-minute rule gives you the easiest way to deal with this problem.

The idea here is “you are not forcefully avoiding yourself from the distractions instead of that you are allowing yourself to get distracted but not right now. You are allowing it after 10 minutes from this moment.”

For example – suppose you are busy with important office work and suddenly you got a notification on your mobile phone where your friend shared a funny message to you on Whatsapp. The moment you see that notification you feel the urge to check your phone.

10 minute rule for distractions

Generally in such a situation, most people tell themselves that they don’t want to see that message which means they are forcefully avoiding this. But as a result the more they try to avoid it forcefully the more their urge increase to check phones.

After that, they feel more discomfort. I think you also react in the same way to such a situation. According to the 10-minute rule, you should react to such situations differently to fight distractions.

You should tell yourself that “I will check my phone but not right now. I will check it after 10 min first I will finish my work. “According to the author Nir Eyal “The urge of distraction lasts for 10 minutes only after that it automatically gets reduced.

If you successfully hold yourself for 10 minutes from distraction after that its urge automatically goes down and then you can easily focus on your work for a long period of time.

So next time when you feel the urge of distraction try this wonderful 10-minute rule and hold yourself for 10 minutes, see how this rule will help you fight against distraction easily.


2. Plan ahead – 

Planning your work is really important, this will help you figure out which actions are pushing you towards your goal and which actions are pulling you away from the goal.

For example – If you want to be healthy and fit then exercise and a good diet will push you towards achieving that goal. On the other hand, distractions like eating unhealthy food and not doing daily workouts make it more difficult for you to achieve that goal.

What if we keep separate time to waste every day. See sometimes it’s very difficult to fight the daily distractions so instead of fighting them if we can set separate times for distractions means during that time we can allow our minds to get distracted.

That means while planning your day you can set separate times for every distraction instead of checking social media/emails while working, you can keep separate half or one hour for that. During that, you can enjoy scrolling on social media and watching your favorite videos on youtube.


In the case of health example, let’s say you set a time of 6 days a week during which your focus is on daily exercise and eating a good diet. Then on Sunday, you can allow yourself to eat junk food and sweets. Sunday should be a fun day for your tongue and body.

This way you can easily deal with such distractions. But you should also keep a strict limit on that means I will allow my mind to get distracted for only Sunday, after that, I will again get back to my routine. You should create this type of pact between you and your mind.

This technique is so powerful because here you are setting separate times for your distractions and you are allowing your mind to get distracted after completion of your work. That means your distractions are not a disturbance in the way of your goals and your daily work.


3. Reimagine your daily tasks – 

The biggest reason why we get distracted easily is boredom. The moment you start feeling boring while working or studying your mind starts searching for distractions that give you instant gratification.

To overcome this boredom what you can do? you can make your daily tasks more interesting so that you get excited about your tasks and you can’t feel boring.

That’s why before starting your work, think about how you can make your daily tasks more interesting? the moment you start thinking about this, your mind will provide you with a number of ideas for that.


For example –  suppose you want to clean your room today, we all know how boring this task is? but then also you have to do that task. Now just think about how you can enjoy this cleaning task?

When you start thinking about this, your mind will give you the ideas as you can listen to your favorite music, podcast, or audiobook. By doing this you can make your cleaning task more interesting and you can enjoy this work.

So remember, before starting your work whether it is in the office or at home, just ask a simple question to yourself how I can make this work more interesting? This will help you overcome boredom during work. Then you can easily focus on your work without distractions. 

Read more – Kaizen way to self improvement


4. The power of precommitment – 

I have taken this powerful technique from the book Indistractable by Nir Eyal, in which the author told about three pre-commitment to overcome the problem of distractions. Let’s see that one by one – 

Check out amazing book – Indistractable by Nir Eyal (Control your attention)

A) Identity pact – 

How do you see yourself? how is your perception of yourself in mind? because the way we see ourselves in mind, the same way we act in reality. Because our identity is much more powerful in our own eyes.

That’s why while talking to yourself, you have to be careful about what type of word you are using in self-talk. For example – If someone is trying to quit smoking, and suddenly his friend asked him to smoke, the most common reply that person will give is ‘I can’t smoke’.

This reply shows the behavior pattern of the person that he wants to smoke but he is trying very hard not to smoke. On the other hand, if he replies in a different way i.e. ‘I don’t smoke’ or ‘I am not a smoker’, this reply shows that the person is trying to connect it with his identity. 

By replying in such a manner, he clearly tells himself and the other person that he is not a smoker. After which it becomes very difficult to take any action by changing your identity. That’s why the author suggests to us that we should identify ourselves as a indistractable person. 

Tell yourself every day that you are a focused person and make it your identity, when you make your identity as a focused/indistractable person it becomes easy to fight all the distractions.

B) Price pact – 

For most people the main motivating factor to do any work is money, when you invest the money to improve yourself, automatically you start feeling motivated. Because you don’t want to waste your money on irrelevant stuff.

You can also use this motivating factor to overcome distractions. Suppose, you do exercise 6 days a week then you can set a rule of giving 100 rs note to your family member if you miss the workout on a single day. This fear of losing money will help you avoid all the distractions that stop you from doing daily workouts.

Create a price pact with your mind, that if you miss doing your work or study because of distractions then you will be going to give 100 rs 0r 500 rs note to your family member that means the moment you miss the work, you will lose some money. This fear of losing money will help you keep on the right track.

C) Effort pact – 

In this pact, you increase the amount of effort to perform the task that involves distractions and you try to full fill your undesirable urges. For example – if you want to reduce the usage of social media apps then uninstall all those distraction apps from your phone. When you need social media app next time again install it.

Depending upon your need to install and uninstall these apps, by doing this you are making this process of using social media very difficult. It takes effort to install those apps again and again so over the period of time you automatically start avoiding these efforts.

The moment you start avoiding these efforts, your social media usage gets reduced hence you overcome all the distractions easily which happens due to social media apps.


5. Practice self-compassion – 

This is the most important thing you should do. The point is we can’t avoid distractions completely, sometimes even after using the above techniques, still your mind gets distracted. Nobody can avoid 100% distractions from their life.

That’s the reason you should practice self-compassion. Self-compassion means you should accept your failure, suffering, pain and deal with them positively instead of ignoring them.


For example – Suppose someone is mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, looking for who has to work on a big project that is making them feel unsatisfied. And to avoid this unusual state, he is switching from one social media app to another.

And if he does not follow self-compassion, then he will feel worse for wasting his time, then it will be difficult for him to focus back on his work. After that, this thing becomes a loop, and every time you keep getting stuck in it.

So it’s very important to practice self-compassion to break this loop. From today onwards, whenever you feel unusual/anxious, accept it positively and you don’t need to feel bad for that because it is a normal feeling. Right!


Conclusion – 

Distraction is a big problem nowadays, it’s important that everybody should understand how to deal with it. In this article, we discussed the root cause of why we get distracted easily? and that root cause is feeling of discomfort. The moment you feel discomfort, your mind will start getting distracted.

To overcome this feeling of discomfort we saw different methods like making your work more interesting, practicing self-compassion, etc. We discussed the 5 powerful ways to overcome the problem of distraction. With this article, hope you got a clear idea on that.

I strongly suggest you implement those techniques in your day-to-day life and soon you will see the difference. If you find this article useful then please share it in your network and subscribe to get more such articles.

6 thoughts on “Why do I get so easily distracted?”

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