Do you ever find yourself—do you ever—do you ever find yourself trying to concentrate and yet can't seem to focus? Why are we so distracted these days? And is technology the root cause of the problem? Or is there something deeper going on?
Five Ways to Distraction-Proof Your Mind
My name is Nir Eyal. And I've spent the last five years researching and writing about the deeper psychology of distraction. When I found myself struggling with distraction, I decided to do what many people advise and got rid of the distracting technology. I got myself a flip phone without any apps. All it did was phone calls and text messages. Then I got a word processor from the 1990s without any sort of Internet connection. Unfortunately, I found I still got distracted. I'd start reading a book from my bookshelf. I'd tidy up my desk. I'd take out the trash even—just to avoid the thing that I didn't want to do.
我叫 Nir Eyal。我用過去五年的時間研究跟撰寫分心背後更深層的心理學。當我發現我受分心所苦的時候，我決定參考大家的意見，擺脫讓人分心的科技產品。我想辦法弄了一部沒有應用程式的翻蓋式手機。只能拿來講電話或傳訊息。然後我又買了一部 1990 年代那種文書處理機，完全沒辦法上網。不幸的是，我還是很容易分心。我會跑去讀書架上的書。我會整理書桌。我甚至還會跑去倒垃圾－－就為了不去做我不想做的事情。
I had only focused on the external triggers—the pings and dings that were leading me towards distraction. What I hadn't focused on, and what turns out to be a much more common source of distraction, are the internal triggers—the uncomfortable emotional states that we seek to escape.
When we're lonely, we check Facebook. When we're uncertain, we Google. When we're bored, we check the news, stock prices, sports scores—anything to not feel these uncomfortable sensations that we're not ready to experience. Here are a few techniques I discovered in my research that could help us stay on track.
我們孤單的時候就看 Facebook。覺得不太確定的時候就查 Google。無聊的時候，我們就跑去看新聞、看股價、看運動賽事比分－－我們還沒準備好要面對那些不舒服的情緒時，就會去做別的事情逃避。接下來跟大家分享一些我在研究中發現可以幫助我們維持在正軌上的小技巧。
One: Plan your day (but not with a to-do list).
First, what you want to do is to make sure you plan your day. Two-thirds of people don't keep any sort of calendar, any kind of schedule in their day. Well, the fact of the matter is if you don't plan your day, somebody is going to plan it for you. Many of us believe in this myth of the to-do list. I used to think that just by writing things down, they'd get done. But of course, I'd go from day to day to day, recycling the bottom half of my to-do list because I wasn't making time to do those tasks. So the best place to start is not with the output of what you want to get done every day, but with the input of how much time you have to devote to every task.
Two: Use social media and email at set times.
So, distraction has many consequences. One of them is that we find that when someone is interrupted during a task, it can take up to 20 minutes for them to refocus on what they were doing. Many times we don't even realize how much worse our output is when we—
分心會有很多後果。其中一個就是如果我們工作的時候被打擾的話，可能要花 20 分鐘才能重新專心。很多時候，我們都不了解我們的產出會變得多糟糕，就是當我們被－－
Some check email in one solid block. If you enjoy using social media, that's great, but make time for it in your day so it's not something you're only using every time you feel bored or lonely.
Three: Surf the urge.
Researchers have found that surfing the urge is an effective way to master our internal triggers. In a smoking cessation study, researchers found that when they taught smokers how to notice the sensation and be mindful of what they were experience, they became much more likely to stop smoking. By surfing the urge and noticing what it is that we're experiencing and allowing that sensation to crest and then subside—kind of like how a surfer might surf a wave—we allow that emotion, that uncomfortable internal trigger, to crest and then pass.
Four: Be aware of "liminal moments."
The next thing that we wanna do is to be careful of liminal moments. Liminal moments are these periods of time when we are transitioning from one task to the other. So, for example, if you start checking your email on the way back from a meeting, and you're finally at your desk, and you keep checking your email instead of getting to the task at hand, well, now that liminal moment has turned into a distraction. So, be careful of those times when you're transitioning from one task to the next.
Five: Remember you're not powerless.
A study of alcoholics found that the number one determinant of whether someone would stay sober after a rehabilitation program was not their level of physical dependency; it wasn't what was happening in their body. In fact, it was what was happening in their minds. The people who were most likely to stay sober were those who believed they had the power to stop. So, when we think that technology is hijacking our brains or it's addicting everyone, we are making it more likely that we won't be able to put technology distractions in their place. So don't believe this lie that there's nothing we can do. Clearly, there's so much we can do to help make sure that we get the best out of these products without letting them get the best of us.
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- 「但事實是」- the fact of the matter
Well, the fact of the matter is if you don't plan your day, somebody is going to plan it for you.
- 「奉獻給、投入給」- devote to something
So the best place to start is not with the output of what you want to get done every day, but with the input of how much time you have to devote to every task.
- 「在手邊、即將到來」- at hand
So, for example, if you start checking your email on the way back from a meeting, and you're finally at your desk, and you keep checking your email instead of getting to the task at hand, well, now that liminal moment has turned into a distraction.