Darn Distraction Machines…Help!!

How do you prevent overwhelm while dealing with 24/7 connectivity?

While researching best practices for dealing with technology distractions and constant connectivity, I thought I’d ask the next generation.
Surely they’re used to dealing with technology, having grown up with it. Maybe they’d have some great insights for us to learn from…. so I decided to survey a group of  college students over the last 2 weeks to get their perspective.
Well, guess what?
They have similar struggles and frustrations, because after all, their parents, teachers and role models were just learning to integrate the incoming themselves.
The comments and feedback from these students  made me realize how common the problem is and how important it is to address 24/7 connectivity and social media boundaries as an integral part of managing stress & overwhelm and maintaining our relationships.
“It’s hard to have a conversation. Everyone’s always attached to their phones.”

“I feel like I have to be connected or people will get irritated with me”

“It’s hard to get anything done”

 “Being connected distracts you from real life, but it’s harder than you think to break away from the technology and social media than you think.”

Here are 8 strategies these college students use to manage distractions:
  • working on school/public computer vs laptop
  • changing social media passwords
  • only opening one tab at a time
  • putting phone in another room
  • blocking facebook
  • using program “self-control” (mac)
  • go somewhere that has no internet
  • put phone away vs on table, etc.
But I believe the following comment sums up their need for boundaries and answers too:

“My ideal solution is the idea of a simpler world to become more prominent like it used to be so that myself and others wouldn’t feel pressured to always be on our phones or laptops or other technology.”

 Pretty powerful stuff. My intention in putting together this survey was to see what we could learn. I realize now what still must be researched and taught.

For those of us well beyond the college years, the challenge is even more pronounced when our business is virtual. Our processes and networks are on the very technology that’s most addictive and distracting.  

So what should you do? 
  1. Build awareness & schedule mind-body check-in’s throughout the day (I suggest at the top of each hour!)
  2. Start your day with a morning ritual. Think habits + routines. At a bare minimum do the following:
    • Find 5 minutes first thing to take several full deep breaths
    • Write down your top priorities and your intention for the day. If you don’t…you’re just going to be going  in circles.
  3. Set yourself up for success by eliminating potential distractions or roadblocks.
I just had to have my 5 & 7 year old read and sign this cell phone contract with their elementary school! Found it funny because they don’t have cell phones and this school only goes through 5th grade. It’s a different world….but maybe we can learn from this! 

Take a quick moment to write your own “boundary” contract and share it with others! You’ll keep yourself focused by managing expectations and removing the guilt of needing to be available at all times. Build in even 5 minute stretch/water/play breaks at the top of each hour and if you’re at home with kids, commit to this quick break/stick to your own boundaries to help model and teach to your children. I know, I know…this is NOT easy for me either – because I LOVE what I do and love to keep researching, learning and creating – but this is a whole other story about why I’m thankful for having children to teach me about the benefits of breaks, boundaries and balance!! 🙂
Reflection and awareness are the first steps so TAKE ACTION NOW and tell me what you do to handle the 24/7 connectivity & how’s it working?

2 Responses to Darn Distraction Machines…Help!!

  1. It is a crazy world these days! I agree with the comment about worrying that people will be upset if you unplug for awhile. People definitely have a level of expectation of how easy they should be able to get a hold of you or how quickly you should response since it’s so easy these days. I am guilt too of being too plugged in when I’m with my boys. I have been making a point to set aside time each day to just be present with them and NOT check my phone every time it makes a noise!

  2. I struggle with this unplugging too. I like Shari’s suggestions about taking even a minute or two to just create your own space each morning. After my girls and I eat breakfast and they are playing in their room, I make my bed. But before I make the bed, I lie in it and stretch out for a minute and say out loud, “Good morning day.” I feel like it helps me start the day with a positive outlook and more patience to deal with my kids. I also just bought IN PRAISE OF SLOWNESS (which I haven’t read yet! 🙂 ) to help me slow our world down…which is a necessity living in NYC! Thanks Shari for the reminders!

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