As a buzzing and busy mind, I move at high speeds to keep up with my studies along with my other professional commitments outside my education. I came up with the idea for the this blog post while reading the article “Remedies for the Distracted Mind- Behavioral Science”. The article talks about different ways to help keep yourself focused. The author says, “a barrage of email messages, texts, snapchats, and notifications of social media posts equally beckon a student studying at home to switch attention from the less interesting work at hand. Add to that the research showing that a large portion of our interruptions come not from the outside alerts but from the internal pull to check in with our virtual world, and it is no wonder why we all struggle to stay focused” (Behavioral Scientist). This is so interesting because I am constantly worried about what notifications I will be missing when I put my phone down. More often that not, I check my phone out of curiosity rather than hearing it ring or feel it vibrate.
I plan to use this article as a map to find ways to train myself to be less distracted. What I have been searching for is a way to break my habits of distracted working. Today I saw this picture that explained how the mind works while distracted and it was very interesting. It showed that as soon as you broke your focused work, you brain never returns to the functioning level that it began at. Although I’ve never realized this, it makes a lot of sense. The minute I am pulled from reading or writing, I continue to feel that pull even when I get back to my work.
Since reading this about two weeks ago, I have tried to implement some of the techniques that they have suggested.
Exercise – I have gotten more into fitness and my own physical health in the past six months. For the past two weeks, I have decided to go to the gym in the morning to help kick-start my day. I saw a small increase in my attention span and overall positive change in my attitude and also my energy level.
The 20-20-20 Rule – This is something that I had never heard of before, and in a pinch, I wanted to see if it would work. Every twenty minutes, I took a twenty second break and focused on objects that were twenty feet away from me. The article states that it “changes your focal distance from inches to feet and requires blood flow to brain areas that are not related to constant attention” (Behavioral Scientist). I was skeptical, something so simple seemed impossible. I found it was hard to find an object that far away in my bedroom, but I’ve started looking out the window to the basketball court below me. I actually noticed that it was better at snapping me back into what I was working on and I felt overall refreshed.
Small Snack Break – This one I think is mainly helped me section off my studies. I used this break in between assignments. Sometimes I feel like when I get up in the middle of an assignment I am not able to fully return my attention. I used this also as a reward for myself after I finished something. It gave me a second to relax and take my mind off of my studies while also fueling myself.
Reading a Chapter – One of my main goals for the semester was to finish my book that I began two years ago. I kept putting it off, telling myself I had more important studies and I also just lost interest in fictional reading. I used this as a fun way to get back into it. When I felt too overwhelmed when reading things about Crisis Communication or articles about piracy and copywrite for my Communications Technology class, I would read one chapter from my book. This gave me a pick me up as well as letting myself read something that I once again found interesting.
I am going to continue to implement these techniques into my studies. I am also going to be introducing more techniques that push me even further out of my comfort zone. I don’t want to be thinking about my phone when my mind wanders for a second. I want to be able to direct my mind to different things when I need a break, rather than it being pulled into a social media hole.