Mastering Distraction

Distraction is caused by our desire to relieve discomfort.

We open our phones to avoid work. To avoid staring at the blank page. To avoid whatever harder work is in front of us and making us uncomfortable.

Mastering distraction is about mastering discomfort.

Here are three ways to beat discomfort and distraction:

1. When you feel distracted, write down how you’re feeling.

The aim of this exercise is to identify the emotion that is making you feel uncomfortable. 

Why are you seeking distraction?

2. Explore the emotion with curiosity.

We get ashamed and angry at ourselves when we get distracted. But this isn’t productive.

Instead, try to take the perspective of a third-party observer, or a scientist observing the results of an experiment. Be curious. But don’t judge.

3. Surf the urge.

Emotions—and distraction—hit us like a wave, rising and then subsiding. You can use that to your advantage by telling yourself you can be distracted, but in 10 minutes.

By the time 10 minutes is up, often the urge will be gone.

Mastering distraction is really about mastering discomfort.

Write down the emotion, explore it with curiosity, and surf the urge.