Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse KBE (Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) may be best known for his creation of “Jeeves,” the quintessential English valet/butler. Jeeves appeared in Wodehouse’s writing until his last completed work in 1974, a span of over 60 years. Jeeves has become such a generic term that the word now appears in some dictionaries.
Distraction. Random e-mails; telephone calls; text messages; social media; 24-hour news cycles; anxiety and worry; daydreaming; illness, etc. They can all add up to a significant amount of mental interruption in your day. In fact, according to Dr.’s Matthew Killings worth and Daniel Gilbert, both Harvard psychologists, a typical human spends about 47% of the day in a state of distraction or loss of focus. But here is the thing. This number does not change even if we turnoff all of our electronic inputs – cell phones, etc. Distraction, as it turns out, is actually the default mode for our brain. Research clearly shows that distractions turn on certain parts of our brain faster than those parts needed for concentration. The problem with all this is that concentration may well be our most precious resource. It is critical to high levels of performance. And yet Dr. Gloria Mark, of the University of California Irvine, has shown the typical knowledge worker gets distracted every three minutes and, once distracted requires almost 30 minutes to return to the original task. However, the real issue is not so much the distractions themselves. More important is how well we recover and return our attention to task relevant cues.
To help with distraction, please consider the following:
· Put in deadlines. Deadlines, more often than not, help people focus.
· Take “attention” breaks and let your brain wander without penalty.
· Limit the number of daily goals.
· Exercise. British researchers found that exercise improves concentration by 21%.
· Break concentration activities into smaller pieces.
· Be aware when your mind drifts and re-focus.
· Distraction happens 64% more often in an open office concept.