Do you reach for your smartphone as soon as you wake? Do you find yourself frequently checking your emails, the news apps or how many likes on your social media post during the day? Well you are not alone.
Research shows that we check our phones at least every 12 minutes of the day. We feel we just have to check the latest posts on social media, tik-tok, messaging apps, swipe left or right on a dating app, scroll the news for updates along with our other favourite sites.
It now seems difficult for us to remember a time when our personal and professional life was not so dominated by the digital world. Many of us feel stressed or lost without our phone nearby. There’s even a new name for it: nomophobia. These devices are like a security blanket to many and bring the world into our lives, but they also mean that we are distracted and interrupted at any time of the day or night.
I think we all know that these distractions have eroded our ability to concentrate. So, if we are interrupted about every 7 to 8 minutes while at work and it takes about 15 minutes to resume our activity with a deep level of concentration, then does this mean we aren’t concentrating as well as we could or should?
By having our phones always online, we exist in a constant state of alertness of what is happening somewhere else or to someone else. Our brains trigger adrenaline and cortisol to create this hyper-alert state that is always searching and scanning for stimuli. It becomes like as addiction that is only assuaged when we check in with our phones or computers.
It seems that most of us are now hopelessly distracted by technology. Social media is engineered to hook our attention, the internet opens the world to us, and monopolises our time.
But why are we so addicted to technology? Well social researchers tell us that a distraction is, something that takes you away from a task you should be doing. Are we distracted because we are addicted or distracted because we are trying to avoid or escape what is happening in our own lives?
Could it be that the aimless and endless scrolling and snaps of information, causes us to unintentionally compare ourselves to others? Does the distraction bring relief from our own intrusive thoughts but also drags us away from our work and responsibilities?
So, we could ask, is the work task we are doing causing anxiety, fear of failure, uncertainty, or are our emotions controlling us and we just have to check our social media apps to see and compare ourselves to others.
Melbourne psychologist Dr Berry has said that distraction has become our number one avoidance technique for pain, anxiety, stress and fear of failure. Studies are showing that digital distraction is beginning to replace drugs and alcohol for drowning out pain. Instead we are choosing the high intensity social media, gaming and pornography, which activates our reward system in the brain.
This is a 21st Century problem. The more we are having difficulty with our emotions and feeling disconnected from our social groups, the more we choose to drown out those feelings by over-using social media, networking or internet sites. It gives us an instant hit, buzz or good feeling. And soon we can find that we are addicted to this virtual world.
In our instant society are we allowing technology to distract us and fritter away our time? Never before has society had so many options available, so many online networks and so much information at our fingertips.
But is all this access to the digital world affecting our ability to make good choices? Why is it that we can watch a 2-hour movie but not focus well enough to study for that length of time? Why is it that we can play a computer game online for hours but not spend more than 30 minutes a day with our families? Why is that we can spend hours reading social media posts but have trouble reading the Bible?
If you are feeling unable to concentrate, unable to pay attention to detail, be diverted and lose interest in a task quickly, then I’d like to suggest a few tips on how to improve your focus and to find out what is really important in your life.
1.What is making you anxious or stressed?
2.Try to control your distraction with social media or internet sites by limiting your access.
3.Be more mindful. When you feel yourself being distracted or your mind wanders, purposely bring it back to the task you are doing.
4. If you are feeling overwhelmed by a task, work out what exactly needs to be done and break it into smaller achievable parts.
5. Make a to-do list and tick off the completed tasks. This will give you that good feeling inside that we all want.
6. Spend more time with the important relationships in your life
7. Pray to God. He will help you to become the person you have dreamed you could be. He can guide your life and lead you in paths you never imagined.
So there are seven points to consider, but remember some of the best advice of all when it comes to what we spend our time watching comes from the Bible. In Philippians 4:8, it says, ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.’