• Ashraf Sheikh

Digital Distraction FREE- Here's How

The greatest threat to a given focus of attention is competition from other stimuli that can cause a shift in focus


I've had days where I've achieved absolutely nothing out of a full work-day and to top that, also suffered a mental fatigue due to 'work exhaustion'


Yes, its possible and I've got 'me' to prove it.


I am not referring to substantial achievement or meaningful achievement


I am referring to "Zero" achievement


Now, here's how it works: You go focussed on a task and then get distracted by what seems very important (aka Social Media, Messaging and Checking emails every 0.0003 seconds), then back to the task only to return back to ....


you guessed right..


saving the world


Repeat the above cycle a few times and this is what happens to your day

I set on a quest to rid the world out of this terrible affliction and thus embarked on a journey that took me into the innermost kernels of the human mind. As fortune would have it, I not only found a cure to this terrible sickness but also, the meaning of life itself.


(translation of the above: I did a quick Google search)

Directed attention fatigue (DAF)is a neurological phenomenon that results from overuse of the brain’s inhibitory attention mechanisms, which handle incoming distractions while maintaining focus on a specific task. The greatest threat to a given focus of attention is competition from other stimuli that can cause a shift in focus-(DAF) Wikipedia

Arguably, Digital Distraction has a monopoly on this one, simply because

..... its just there


We have work stuff on the very same devices that distract us.


An Alcoholic has greater chances of recovery from an addiction by choosing to walk a different street corner from the pub.


Few of us have that choice with digital distractions.


Here are my top 3 tips, that have helped me get some level on sanity back into my life


#1: 'Dumbed down' my main phone : There can be only one smart entity while I work, its either me or my phone.


I Chose me and dumbed-down my smart phone


I bought a $13 phone (AIEK M5 Mini) that only allows me to make/ receive calls and difficult to text which is a size of a credit card and got all my calls forwarded to it.


Sanity level restored: 30% {No Social Media, No Messaging and only calls that I chose to forward }




#2: Installed 6 web blockers on my main computer:

Blocked all the regular news, social media (including Linkedin) and emails. The Idea of installing 6 (or more) blockers is that if you can be easily tempted into to un-installing that one blocker .


But, if you've installed 6 (or more) then mid-way you hear a little voice that says "Whats wrong with you?" (thats your brain talking and for a change, its actually giving you good advice)


So, here's how it works:


(1) I use a second computer to check emails, social media and read news at *specific times and this device is kept far from my work desk (I even keep it at home or in my car sometimes)


*The idea of carving out a specific time is to make sure all important emails are answered or social media replies are sent out within a 24-hour period.


(2) I have those 3-4 very important email ids forwarded automatically to an email address that I don't use commonly (you can create a new one and not give it out)


(3) If you are using chrome, then make sure to block the 'chrome store' because the whole point of "add-ons" is to make your browser smarter and you definitely don't want that.


Some of the blockers that actually work:


Sanity level restored: 30% {No mindless web surfing / checking emails every 0.0003 secs while forced to get onto the task at hand}


#3: Put my thoughts on the cloud':

(1) Calls to make, texts and whatsup messages to send out, random Ideas or things-to-do- goes to the cloud.


Whatever you put on the cloud on a web app like google keep syncs with the mobile app



(2) Important article are pasted entirely on google docs, disabling the links and filing them under separate folders, the idea is not to get distracted by surfing away from that article.


Sanity level restored: 10% {No mindless web surfing / Documenting whats important instead of storing it in my mind)


Have your tried any of these?

Any more ideas for me to get the rest 30% back?


ASHRAF SHEIKH

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DUBAI | UAE