The Ultimate Guide to Slaying Distractions and Freeing Yourself From Interruptions

Today, I’m excited to announce that my new video training series, Free From Distraction (FFD), is now open for enrollment. I created this course to help you take back control of your time and attention in today's increasingly distracting world—all within five days.

And the best part: it’s 100 percent free to join!

Click here to join Free From Distraction right now!

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Is The World More Distracted Than Ever?

The Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Herbert Simon once said:

“What information consumes is rather obvious: It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”

See, I think you’ll agree that we’re busier now than we’ve ever been in the 6000 years of recorded history. Yes, sure, we all love technology. And with all of its rapid advancement, you’d think that it should’ve made life easier for us.

But let’s face it… What it has really done is made everyone flat out busier.

With text messages and e-mails buzzing in our pockets, our constant availability for phone calls, and shiny new apps and social media on our phones, we’ve become more distracted, more unfocused, more overwhelmed, stressed and anxious than ever before.

All of this leads to many of us feeling like we’re doing a lot every day, but really not getting anywhere.

The Research Behind This Is Alarming...

According to Gallup, half of us say we don’t have enough time. But what if that’s the wrong way to look at it?

As the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca observed over 2000 years ago: “It’s not that we have a short time to live,” he said, “but that we waste a lot of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”

And that’s the issue. Every week comes with 168 hours. The only question is how we use them. But how many hours do we actually waste on distractions? Well, the answer may surprise you:

The financial management service Think Money researched the question, and their findings are mind-blowing.

According to their 2015 report, distractions lead to the average worker wasting 60 hours every month, or a total of 759 hours each year.

Let me repeat that: Employees lose 759 hours per year on interruptions.

Now let me put this into perspective. If we’re talking about a standard 40-hour work-week, that’s almost 19 weeks, nearly 5 months of wasted time – time that could be spent on key projects.

That’s frightening, especially if you’re the business owner, right?

As Rachel Emma Silverman said for the Wall Street Journal, “Even though digital technology has led to significant productivity increases, the modern workday seems custom-built to destroy individual focus.” Isn’t that true?

Well, let’s look at another fascinating study.

Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, together with her team, went into various workplaces, and they timed people’s activities to the second.

They targeted information workers in particular, and they had observers shadow each person for three and a half days each and timed every single activity to the second. If they picked up a phone call, that was the start time. When they put the phone down, that was the stop time. When they turned to the Word application, they got the start time and stop time.

At the end of the study, some interesting findings emerged.

In Gloria Mark’s words, “We found people switched these activities on average of every three minutes and five seconds. Roughly half of them are self-interruptions.”

Think about it...

Self-interruption means that it’s not just somebody else interrupting you. It’s you interrupting yourself.

For example, you’re working on a specific task, and suddenly you start surfing the Web, going to eBay or Amazon, or for no apparent reason you pick up your phone to make a call, check your Facebook feed, Twitter, or Instagram, or email, or… well, you get the idea.

Of course you may tell yourself that you’ll just answer one email, or send a quick message to a friend, or make a short phone call. But sure enough, one distraction feeds another, and then another, and before you know it, you’re hours away from what you initially anticipated.

And here’s the bad news: They found that it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back to the task.

Let me say that again: Once distracted or interrupted, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back to the task you were working on.

Can you see how this affects your productivity in the workplace? But even more so, can you think about the implications of these distractions on your personal relationships?

Check out this one:

If you have a phone out when you’re connecting with someone else - let’s say you’re going out to lunch with a friend, or a colleague, or with your significant other - and there’s a phone on the table, even if it’s not on and even if it’s not yours, research shows that the quality of your interactions is likely to be diminished as a direct result of having that phone in sight.

Think about that, that’s mind-boggling. It doesn’t even have to be your phone to distract you!

And you don’t need to go that far to see the truth of this statement.

Just look at our communications these days. We spend more time holding our phones than we do holding each other. We live in a world where we ask Google more questions than we ask each other.

Someone once said that the same technology that brings us closer to those who are far away, takes us far away from the people who are actually close.

Isn’t that true?

But is it practical to work without distractions and interruptions?

Now as you hear me talk about these things, there may be a part of you that says, “But is it practical to work without interruptions? Is it practical to work without distractions?”

And I think the answer is no, it’s not practical. What we’ve talked about so far is the ideal state because let’s face it:

Everybody’s got this fantasy about work. You come into a beautiful room. Your desk is perfectly clean. You turn on your computer, sit down and get to work. Before you know it, 8 hours of uninterrupted work have gone by and you were completely in the zone!

Can you think about the last time this happened? It’s a great fantasy, and maybe once in awhile it happens. But in truth, it’s pretty rare.

In reality, most of us have messy desks, annoying colleagues at work, and we’re constantly interrupted by social media, Slack, Skype, meetings and email notifications. With all of it going on, it’s no surprise that we can often spend eight hours at work and feel like we got nothing done all day. In fact, we’re lucky if we get at least two hours of real work done.

The truth is that sometimes, there are things that come up that are very important and they’re urgent, and they need to be handled. Sometimes you have to deal with interruptions. And sometimes you have to deal with multitasking.

What I’ve found, though, is that the challenge isn’t really the distractions or interruptions themselves. It’s that we let them become the norm. It’s that we let them control us, instead of us controlling them.

Because you see, the internet is an incredibly powerful distracting force. It is literally engineered to be addictive.

So when you try to muster all your willpower to beat these multi-billion dollar companies with hundreds of millions of users, tons of test data, and engineers whose only mission in life is to figure out how they can command your attention better, you’re probably going to lose.

And here’s where top performers are different. Top performers understand that getting distracted is normal. It’s human nature. So they don’t try to eliminate distractions or avoid them. They’re always going to be there. Instead, they build the skills to manage it.

I’ll say that again: Top performers don’t try to eliminate distractions or avoid them. They’re always going to be there. Instead, they build the skills to manage it. 

You see, all of us have the same distractions as everyone else. The difference is what we do about it.

Introducing: Free From Distraction

Free From Distraction is a free online course broken down into five video training lessons.

Based on cutting-edge scientific research, this course provides practical, novel techniques to control your time and attention — helping you live the life you really want.

If you’ve already tried the treadmill of random productivity apps, hacks, and tactics, and you want to go beyond symptoms to focus on what actually works, Free From Distraction gives you the precise, actionable steps to integrate these principles into your everyday life.

You'll learn:

  • How to clean out all the noise and distractions from your busy life so that you become staggeringly focused on the few goals that are most essential to you.
  • How to free yourself from constant interruptions and say no to time wasting vampires — without feeling guilty.
  • How to get the best out of technology, without letting it get the best of you.
  • And much more...

Click here to join Free From Distraction right now!

Yes my friend, it's 100% free. So go sign up right now and let's get you some training on this.

Daniel Cerescu

I'm Daniel Cerescu, and I'm the guy behind this blog. Even though most of the material on this website is free, I aim to make this free content better than anyone else’s paid stuff. My mission is to inspire and empower those who refuse to settle for anything less than an extraordinary life to live with passion, lead with purpose, and make their mark on the world.