A Surprising Source of Distraction and What You Can Do About It
You have done everything you can to minimise distractions. You have closed your browser. You have turned off notifications on your phone. But you still feel restless. What is happening?
It’s your mind. Your mind is distracting you; not letting you focus. This is not some spiritual spiel. This is scientific.
Psychologists have long known that your mind has a working memory. Working memory stores information required for the task at hand. There are studies which show that the working memory has a limited capacity. You can only remember so many things at a time.
Your day-to-day life is filled with tasks. When you try to remember these tasks, they get stored in your working memory. This leaves less working memory for what you are doing. Your brain sees this as clutter. Clutter can cause the release of cortisol in your brain, leading to stress. Stress is a source of distraction.
More importantly, when you have unfinished tasks, your brain keeps nagging you till you complete those tasks. This is known as the Zeigarnik effect. This is the reason you find it hard to focus when there is an upcoming tax deadline (ugh!). Your brain hates having to remember this stuff. This is the biggest source of distraction.
A simple trick can get your brain to stop nagging you!
Just write these tasks down. You will find that your brain almost behaves like you have completed the tasks.
The takeaway is simple, if you want to focus on what you are doing, take a moment and make a note of all the things you need to do.
If you read all that and found it interesting. Here is an engaging video that explains the same concept.
Originally published at www.getrolo.in on July 4, 2016.