Distraction Kills Productivity, Attention, and Awareness
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Steve Jobs
The noise of the external world is muting the sound of the internal world, and therefore our intuition pays the price.
What moments do we have in the day to connect internally? How much time do we give to listen to our internal voice? What is consuming our attention and why?
I believe good desires can guide us in living a more beautiful and purposeful life. Desires push us beyond our comfort zone and into the areas of innovation and progress. They are a critical component of our evolution. They can lead us towards enlightenment – a more profound state of joy.
Some desires can lead us astray. Distracting our attention towards things that are of little importance. We are beings that have been designed to favour distraction, a mechanism of survival for the purpose to keep us alert. However, the novelty and clutter of our modern lives distract us to the point that when we are idle and not occupied we become anxious. To the point that we a less aware of what and why we are doing what we do in each moment throughout the day.
There is so much distraction in the modern life that it is no wonder people are dissatisfied. And I say this not with a hunch but by understanding the statistics. A recent statistic suggests that only 13% of people are engaged in their work. What are the other 87% of people doing? Why are they disengaged? Is it a lack of awareness, accountability, resources? Are we all just hugely distracted an unable to connect meaning to what we do?
I think we can measure distraction via productivity. When we are distracted and preoccupied with activities that lack any significant or meaningful purpose inevitably, we become less efficient in our daily operations.
Distraction gobbles up time. It decreases our ability to be content with boredom and yet boredom is often the best time and only time we have to reflect within, connect with whats important, and assess our current state of being. This idle time is essential for figuring shit out so we can better do the work to improve the overall quality of our life and well-being.
Happiness and satisfaction should be a universal measure of a societies well-being. Instead, we use measures like Gross Domestic Product, GDP. I understand that some countries indeed do measure happiness, it’s called Gross National Happiness, GNH.
Now, I am not an economist, far from it, but I cannot help wonder if “distraction” is a killer of productivity than a nation that has sluggish or slowing GDP growth might indicate populations declining state of attention, awareness and level of happiness.
Technology is thought to be beneficial to the improvement of productivity however specific figures show a different story. One article indicated that in the US, a country that is at the forefront of technology use and advancement had slow economic growth from 2007 to 2015 at 1.3%, half of what was recorded seven years before that from 2000 to 2007.
Naturally, numerous factors impact economic growth, however, may I be so bold to suggest that technology is a distraction master. Companies design their tech in a way to absorb as much of the user’s attention as possible. If our focus is consumed by relatively unimportant and trivial matters how do you think over a more extended period that will affect our happiness? Perhaps not so well.
I suppose my point is that if we do not measure something, we will not be able to see the effect it has. We may be able to conclude by connecting the dots as I’ve just done but it’s not 100% conclusive or necessarily accurate.
If we are drowning in the external noise that is increasingly capturing societies attention, including our own, then how can even begin to measure satisfaction? What time is there to reflect and practice awareness? How can we assess what makes us happy? I’d suggest that we can’t.
Practices that help reduce the external noise and create greater awareness will allow us to tap into our intuition? When we connect to our intuition, we can use it to better guide us to more profound satisfaction and happiness in life.
External noise is everything that is unnecessary. The things we do in every moment that create chaos and overwhelm for no real reason. The stuff we buy and crave that only clutters our lives and slows us down – restricting our freedom. Moments of boredom that become anxious that we then relieve with activities that stimulate more unease. Thoughts that flow from too much information that consumes our mindless culture. A mind too busy to hear. When we begin to remove these things, then we will be able to listen again to what’s truly important.
Further Reading and Resources