Distractions are all around us. From modern technology to interactions with our friends, family and coworkers, they are practically unavoidable. And this makes it very hard to focus, especially for a sustained period of time on a specific task.
And, it’s not going to decrease anytime soon with advances in technology. So, there is no better time than now to learn the best strategies to help you defeat distractions head on. Remember, many distractions may be out of your control, but you can learn to take charge of whether or not they take control of you.
In this article, you’ll learn not only why distractions are so distractions are so destructive, but also why they exist in the first place, and a powerful technique that can help you get rid of them for good.
Table of Contents
What is a Distraction?
The definition of a distraction is such: “a stimulus or task that draws attention away from the task of primary interest.”
Meaning, they draw our attention away from whatever it is that we want to do, such as looking at your phone each time a notification comes up, chatting with people who stop by your office space while you’re working, checking social media or emails. These are all distractions!
Here’s an example of how a distraction got in the way of something really important to me. One day my only child and I were working on an activity book, which was designed to bring fathers and daughters together. One of the activities was to ask each other, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” Unfortunately, I can’t recall my daughter’s answer, because I let a distraction get in the way of our quality time together. “Daddy?” she asked. “Just a second,” I impatiently mumbled, “I need to respond to one thing.” I was focusing at the time only on my phone. When I was finished and finally looked up, she was gone.
At that moment, I realized that my special moment with my daughter was gone because I had let a distraction take that time from me. had just blown a special moment with my daughter because I had allowed something on my phone to distract me–and this wasn’t the first time something like this has happened. I knew I had to make a conscious decision to change the way I viewed distractions, and I’m going to help you do the same so you can fully enjoy your life just as you envision.
Traction: The Opposite of Distraction
So, we’ve come to the conclusion that distractions are bad, and we don’t want those. What we want to achieve is the opposite: traction. now, you won’t find this listed as any true antonym for distraction if you look to a thesaurus or dictionary; yet, I propose it so as by definition traction is any action that moves us towards what we really want.
Traction is an action that you fully engage in with intent–following through with what you say you will do.
The Reasons for Distraction
When we talk about distractions, we’re talking about human behavior and reactions to the distractions themselves. And, all human behavior is marked by external or internal triggers.
External triggers are cues that we take from our environment which tell us what to do, such as pings from our phone or computer that prompt us to look at whatever the alert is announcing: an instagram update, an email, a text from an old friend. When you boil it down, these external triggers become in competition for our attention with whatever task we’re ultimately trying to focus on. Sometimes the mere presence of an object itself, such as having your phone nearby, can prompt you to give it attention.
As well, there are Internal triggers, which are simply cues that come from within, such as hunger, anxiety about an upcoming event, or feeling cold.
All human behavior is prompted by external or internal triggers; therefore, traction and distraction both originate from the same source.
How to Become Indistractable
Distractions can easily take over your life, but below I outline 4 simple tactics to take back your control and become indistractable. This concept I am sharing with you now draws from my book Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.
1. Master Internal Triggers
To overcome distractions, you first need to understand what motivates, or drives, your behavior to become susceptible to distractions. Humans have a natural tendency to want to escape discomfort. Even at times where we are going after pleasure and positive events, our drive often revolved around freeing ourselves from the discomfort of wanting.
So, in truth, we will turn to social media, emails, video games, Netflix not necessarily for the pleasure that they provide, but because of how they free us from psychological discomfort within. While it provides temporary relief, it is an unhealthy way to deal with your life. Even though you can’t control all outside situations and occurrences, you can control how you react to those circumstances.
Various studies show that when humans don’t give into an urge, craving or impulse, it can trigger rumination and make the desire grow even stronger. So, when you eventually give in, your reward is increased, which can turn quickly into an undesired habit.
Dr. Jonathan Bricker, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, developed a set of steps to take when we are faced with a tempting distraction.
Identify the Feeling or Thought Behind Your Urge
When you find yourself wanting to give into your distraction, stop and become familiar with the internal trigger. How are you feeling? Is it anxiety, overtired, or maybe you’re underprepared for the task at hand?
Write Your Feelings Down
Bricker advises using a log and writing down the time of day and what you were doing, along with the feeling that accompanies it. Doing so will help you link your own behaviors with your internal triggers, which will help you better notice the thoughts and feelings that precede certain behaviors and better manage them.
Get Curious and Explore Your Feelings and Sensations
Bricker advises having a sense of curiosity towards the feelings. Notice of you have butterflies in your stomach, or a tightening in your muscles. He recommends the “leaves on a stream” method. To do this you simply imagine yourself beside a stream, on which leaves gently float by. Place each thought and negative feeling on individual leaves and watch them float away.
In addition to Bricker’s steps, I have several other solutions that can be used to master any internal triggers leading to distraction.
2. Make Time for Traction
Planning is so critical to beating distractions, because if you don’t plan your day, surely someone else will! When you’re not clear on how you want to do with your time, anything and everything becomes a potential distraction.
First, you need to turn your values into time. Of course many of us want to spend more time with things that matter most to us: our family, friends and hobbies, but oftentimes we fail to do so. Why? Because we don’t make time for them in our day.
So, you must acquire the attributes and values of the person you want to become.
Examples might include being a contributing member of a team, a loving and caring parent, a fair and loving partner, continuing education, becoming physically fit, or giving back to your community. SO many of us wish to subscribe to these values, but without making the time to take actions to live them out, they’re simply empty aspirations.
Timebox Your Schedule
Timeboxing is, in my opinion, the most effective way to ensure time for your values. Timeboxing is the process of deciding what you’re going to do and exactly when you’re going to do it. You simply create a daily calendar template for how to spend your time, so that you have no white space in your day. It isn’t important what you have planned to do, as long as you stick to it. So, if you feel a need to scroll through social media, just make sure you have planned appropriately for it.
This gives you power to decide exactly how much time you want to devote to each area of your life, and you can plan it out according to your own values. Once you do this, you will then create a weekly calendar template for your ideal week. You can check out this helpful template on my website.
Be sure to include 15 minutes per week to reflect and refine your calendar–improving it week by week. You can ask yourself: When did I do what I said I would do, and when did I get distracted?
At times where you became distracted, note what triggered it and come up with a strategy to use the next time the distraction or urge arises. Also ask: Are there changes I can make to my calendar that will give me the time I need to better express my values?
This helps you to change the day so that your calendar will be easier to follow next week.
Synch Your Schedule with Others
Once your ideal week has been planned, be sure to notify others of importance in your life. Make a clear intention to stick with your plans and involve those who matter most with regards to your agenda. This could be related to sharing household responsibilities, altering your boss to your timeline intentions at work, or even scheduling a date with your partner.
3. Combat External Technical Triggers
Tech companies are really adept at using external triggers to hack into our attention. There are countless ways they do so, but our smart phone use is fueled by many of these triggers.
Research shows that ignoring a call or message can be just as distracting as responding to one! If used properly, though, you can take control and rely on these external triggers to remind you to follow through with what you planned.
To do so, simply ask whether the external trigger is serving you, or are you serving it. If the trigger leads you to traction, keep it; if it leads you to distraction, get rid of it. A few things to consider:
- Remove any and all apps you no longer need.
- Remove any apps that you enjoy, but you can use on your computer instead.
- Reduce the clutter on your home screen by rearranging the apps on your phone.
- Remove notification settings for each app that you don’t need updates on (social media, etc.)
4. Make a Pact to Prevent Distractions
Forethought is the antidote to impulsivity. So, I urge you to make a “precommitment”—which means that you are removing a future choice—in order to overcome distraction. Some of these precommitments are advanced healthcare directives, retirement accounts that penalize us for early withdrawal, and “until death do us part” marriage vows.
We cement these decisions far in advance of any temptations and distractions that may come our way. This should only be undertaken after you have followed the other three steps and learned to manage internal triggers, make time for traction, and reduce external triggers.
The 3 Types of Pacts
This is a kind of precommitment which requires you to increase the amount of effort towards something you would rather not do. Increasing your effort forces you make the decision as to whether the distraction is really worth it or not. Some great apps that can help you with this include SelfControl, Forest, and Freedom.
This pact puts money on the line, whereas if you follow through with your intended behavior, you get to keep your money, and if you get distracted, you lose your funds.
I committed to a price pact when finishing the first draft of my book, promising an accountability partner $10,000 if I failed to finish my draft by the set deadline. This was an incentive for me to finish writing my book, and keep my money.
Is the method of using your self-image to impact on your behavior. By deciding on and undertaking on a new identity, you will empower yourself to make decisions based on who you believe you are. Think about vegetarians– they do not have to expend much willpower to avoid eating meat, because they have committed to that as part of their identity.
So, to become a person who is indistractable, stop telling yourself you are a person with a “short attention span” or and “addictive personality”. Rather, tell yourself, “I am indistractable.” If you say to yourself that you are easily distracted, it instantly becomes a truth. Yet, if you commit to believing that you are indistractable, you will immediately begin to implement these strategies, which will empower you to conquer any distraction that comes your way.
You Got This!
To become indistractable, you need not have any superpowers. It’s truly as easy as following these few steps mentioned above. When you master internal triggers, make time for traction, dissolve any extraneous external triggers, and prevent distractions by creating pacts, you will reshape your entire life.
More to Help You Stay Focused
The success of our day is largely dependent on the quality of our planning. Not to miss out anything in their to-dos, some people prefer to make a list of upcoming tasks in a notebook, while others have long started using digital technology solutions.
Calendar applications are some of the main tools that are worth using to organize our life and plan your time carefully.
Many people have switched to specific tools; however, there are still some who do not use calendars on a daily basis. They may find some applications uncomfortable to use, non-functional, or expensive.
In this article, we are going to check out the best calendars apps to help you stay organized.
Before You Download
As you are no doubt aware, there are all kinds of calendar apps available. Instead of you sifting through the hundreds of them, we’ve handpicked 10 of the best calendar apps you can get. On top of glowing reviews from each one, we’ve considered the following aspects when creating this list:
- User Interface – How you navigate the app should be smooth and simple. The buttons on the app should be clear, obvious and easy to move through.
- Synchronization – Whether it’s with other calendar apps or with other apps, syncing apps should be easy and enhance your overall experience with the app.
- Additional features – Since there are so many options for calendars, many of these apps offer additional features. These features make the apps stand out from the other apps and provide unique experiences to you.
1. Any.do Calendar
This calendar has direct integration with Any.Do To-Do List, which gives you a unique tandem of two applications.
Apart from its extended functionality, Cal Calendar is easy to use. The creation of events is very simple and fast.
What is more, depending on the name of the event, the application automatically adds contacts and geolocation data to the entry description. You can even import your lists and entries from Any.do.
Any.do Calendar is a great option for any type of user. It is very convenient and doesn’t overcomplicate the mode of display.
Another good thing is that this tool is available for free, so you can use it without spending a dime for the software.
2. Google Calendar
Google Calendar is the official calendar for Android devices that has been tested out by many users around the globe. If you are right now trying to get away from it, consider changing your mind.
Since this application is installed on most Android devices by default, many users think that there is nothing special in this program. They are wrong.
Google has been updating its calendar for quite a few years, and now it comes in Material Design with advanced event features, direct integration into other Google services (for example, supports reminders and Google Now), and comes with Exchange support.
The program is super easy and will not cost a dime for you. It is a good thing, right?
Calendar is a relatively new app. It works as a web app and for both iOS and Android devices. It is an intelligent app that learns your contacts, schedule and tasks. It also helps you schedule and arrange meetings according to your available time slots.
A good thing about Calendar is that it allows you to sync up with other calendars you use such as Apple Calendar and Google Calendar. And so you can manage all the calendars you have in one place.
Calendar also gives you analytics of your meetings, giving you a clear picture on how you can improve your time management.
4. Business Calendar
Business Calendar is geared towards people who use their calendar for work purposes and business task planning. It offers different modes with wide configuration capabilities.
The application gives a default view mode by months, and events can be marked in different colors. Display modes/ sorting can be adjusted to your needs (by month, day, year, or events).
You can also set a multi-day viewing mode to see how things look for the next few days. Scrolling up and down moves you by month, and if you check a few days, they will be shown in a more detailed form.
The day display mode offers hourly scheduling, and the schedule mode provides a detailed schedule for a single event.
Business Calendar is a great tool for planning/ scheduling cases, tasks, and events. There is a support for recurring events, which can be set up in just a few clicks.
Having purchased software, you can use it to import and export other calendars, delete, copy, or move several events at the same time.
Android Business Calendar application may seem somewhat chaotic, but it works fine and is easy to work with if you play with it for a while.
A full version of the application is available for $4.99, but you can also find a free version for the app test drive.
aCalendar opens our collection of top 10 calendar applications available on the market today. With its appealing design, easy navigation, and great functionality, it is one of the most popular calendar apps in our list.
Some of extra functions include color schemes for each case type (48 colors to choose from), different types of demonstrations, different widgets, moon phases, and much more.
Taking into account it functionality, aCalendar is a reliable calendar application that has an easy-to-navigate interface with three display options. Scrolling from side to side allows you to switch between the display modes of the month, week and day.
When scrolling down and up, you are moving through the calendar at intervals in accordance with the selected display mode.
Apart from its time planning feature, aCalendar synchronizes photos from contact lists or social networks to remind you about birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special dates.
The program also supports data transfer through NFC and full-screen widgets, which eases your work with any data.
The program is available for free, but you can also get even more features if you buy the extended version of software for $4.99.
6. DigiCal Calendar
DigiCal Calendar is very similar to Cal Calendar in the fact that the application focuses on design more than on its functionality. However, this doesn’t mean that the application doesn’t serve the purpose.
With this calendar application, you can synchronize all your calendars and view them in different ways.
Along with the basic functions, this program comes with support for Google Calendar, Outlook, and includes some unique and interesting features. You can match keywords to the image or set up a dark theme.
The app can even show you the weather forecast for three days. There are many other features that deserve the attention of people who really like to use calendar applications.
SolCalendar can be called a universal application. It claims to be an all-in-one digital solution having a basic calendar functionality combined with some other advanced features, such as weather forecast for a specific day.
The application supports Google Calendar, as well as tasks, widgets, lunar calendar and even Foursquare.
Those searching for a calendar application to cover just everything in its functionality, SolCalendar is a program to consider. There are a lot of interesting things in this application; the program does an excellent job working in “all-in-one” mode.
Test SolCalendar – the application is available for free. You can test it out without purchasing the service.
8. IRL Event Social Network
One of the most unique apps on this list is the IRL Event Social Network app. As you can guess from the name, the core focus of this app is social networking. Unlike other social media platforms, you can consider this platform to function similar to Meetup.com. It’s a site where you can connect with other people within your area that share a similar interest.
IRL is that while also providing a convenient calendar for you to schedule events and plan out your day. Though due to it being a secondary focus, you’re lacking a lot of the syncing aspects that other apps have on this list. Regardless, because of this huge social feature, it’s worth considering for those who want to make more connections.
9. Today Calendar
Today Calendar is one of the most hip and edgy calendars in our list. The solution was one of the first ones that really embraced Material Design and remains one of the few that adhere to the neat style.
The calendar application offers bold colors, simple controls, and great functionality. This is not as heavy an application as many others; it will not eat all the memory of your device.
If you are not searching for something complicated and over-functional, Today Calendar is what you need. You can always test the application before paying for it – the program is available for free.
Timepage is an intuitive calendar app that will manage your time in a way that other calendar apps can’t. It offers the same sort of functions that you’d expect from other calendar apps: opportunities to record events, notifications and reminders, weather, and driving duration to a particular event. However, the app goes beyond those functionalities in two ways.
The first way is that while the app sends you notifications, it also has reminders for you for what is coming up next. That bit of extra time can allow you to prepare and make adjustments to your day if need be.
The second function – which is more important – is the heat map when you go to see the full view of your calendar. This heat map indicates what days you are most busy and other days where you are freer. This heat map provides a quick glance to determine broadly what days are good to add more events and other tasks.
Searching for the right application to manage your various calendars and plan your busy day can sometimes turn into a streak of obstacles.
Most of us need flexible applications that can be easily used to manage our tough schedule. The application should have all necessary time planning functions and be intuitive.
Stylish design and limitless compatibility also matter. It is not always easy to find such a program.
The above digital calendar solutions fall under the category “worth” of being used. They are modern, multifunctional, easy, and easy. Pick the one you like!