How to Escape the Vicious Cycle of Distraction
You have time for everything, even if it doesn’t feel that way
People are always saying “there aren’t enough hours in the day” to get stuff done. And yet research suggests that the average working American has four hours of leisure per day. If we have so many hours to play with every day, why do so many of us feel like we don’t have time to accomplish our big goals?
Because a lack of time is not the problem. It’s not why we fail to accomplish what we want to do. The real problem is the vicious cycle of distraction. As I discuss in my book Indistractable, we spend hours upon hours each day distracted by pseudo-work like checking email unnecessarily, having too many meetings, and corporate politicking. We allow ourselves to be constantly interrupted by notifications. And all that wasted time just pushes us further into distraction.
But the good news is that anyone can break out of this cycle — you just have to understand how it works.
The time crunch is what you see on the surface, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the time crunch, there’s a massive ocean of overwhelm and frustration. And at the bottom of that sea of bad feelings is the real problem.
The vicious cycle of distraction is what creates the feeling of not having enough time. The more distracted we are, the more frustrated we feel and the more prone we become to distraction.
Here’s how the vicious cycle of distraction works
You start your day overwhelmed by your mile-long to-do list. But instead of diving into the most important task on your list, you tell yourself it’s okay to check email for a quick second. Then you check social media, reply to Slack channels, get a snack, read the news — you know, just to get yourself “ready for the day.”
These tasks all feel like things you’ll have to do at some point, so you convince yourself it’s all right to prioritize them before diving into the work you’re putting off. Eventually you realize you still haven’t worked…