They steal energy and eat time.
Like mosquitoes, they’re persistent and unrelenting.
Facebook notifications. Email pop-ups in the corner of the screen. That urge to check your phone when you’re in the midst of solving a complex problem. All day, these kinds of distractions tug on our attention and pull us away from our work.
Task switching has a costly, negative effect on the brain.
Sophie Leroy, Associate Professor at the University of Washington Bothell, discusses attention residue in her peer-reviewed article “Why is it so hard to do my work?” and defines the effect as “when thoughts about a task persist and intrude while performing another task.”
The cost of frequently switching tasks is a reduction in cognitive performance, which is why it’s important to say no to distractions.
I’ve found that my best work—the kind of work that delivers results—comes from uninterrupted periods of time when I’m focused on just one thing.
A heightened sense of awareness emerges and I feel energized.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi labeled this feeling of hyperfocus as Flow. In his book of the same name, he defines flow as “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.” Athletes and artists commonly refer to it as being “in the zone” or “in the groove.”
Dr. Csikszentmihalyi even calls flow the secret to happiness.
Saying no to distractions and getting into flow state is how I:
- Enjoy my work
- Get more done in less time
- Exercise the brain
- Learn fast
- Create a sense of fulfillment
Distractions (and mosquitoes) are not inherently bad, but the ability to control attention and maintain focus on what’s wildly important is like a superpower for creating value and delivering results.