Silencing The Noise: Managing Digital Distractions For A Better You

While the onset of social media has most certainly connected people, the flipside is that the distractions it causes simply don't serve you and your goals.

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By Marcus Smith


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The world is becoming noisier by the day, with distractions seemingly flung at us from every direction. While some may argue a little noise can reap benefits, with it comes huge distractions that prevent us from doing some of our best work, meaning we need to be very careful. When was the last time we sat down to read a chapter of a book without checking Instagram, or had a deep conversation with a friend without a phone pinging in the background? It would seem such days are few and far in between. Mind blowing, isn't it?

More than once, Netflix's latest documentary The Social Dilemma suggests that social media represents "humanity's greatest existential threat," exposing the ways in which technology giants have manipulated human psychology to influence how we behave. And if you think that sounds absolutely terrifying, then you'd be right.

Not only is much of this increased noise is distracting us from reaching our highest potentials, it is also intoxicating us, and filling our human hard drives with information and thoughts that somehow make us doubt ourselves, feel inadequate, or even give up on our dreams completely before we have even really started.

It's not all doom and gloom though, and the good news is that in order to change this, all we need are some simple tools to help silence the noise and release us from these toxic distractions. Here are six tips that are easy to integrate into our daily lives, and will ensure you stay on that path to success and achieve your goals in 2020 and beyond.

1. Silence the noise Hands up if you own a mobile phone, laptop, or tablet. Chances are high. However, there's nothing stopping you from turning off notifications when it's time to get your head down and work, or simply enjoy some you-time without distractions from the outside world. Do you really need to be disturbed every time someone replies to your LinkedIn post, or likes your picture on Instagram? While we're not completely to blame –studies show that with every "like" or "follow," the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, effectively causing it to rewire itself to constantly crave social media- ask yourself what value that brings to your life. A notification does not make you a better human being, so please turn it off. Apply the same habits to the books you read, friends you socialize with, and places you visit.

2. Plan your time An increasing number of people do business via WhatsApp, making it impossible to do good work if you are constantly checking your phone. Instead, set aside specific time slots each day to get back to messages, and make sure you stick to them. Back in the early days, I worked for a company who would connect to the internet for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, which worked perfectly as it meant we would check our emails in the morning, work on them in the afternoon, and then reply in the evening. While I know this would be impossible and potentially detrimental in today's workplace, the concept of planning time to address emails and WhatsApp messages will help keep you focused on all other aspects of your life and work as well.

3. Develop a deeper understanding through daily reflections While people may dismiss daily reflections as a passing new age trend, they have actually been a popular practice for a number of years. A short daily reflection is nothing but a healthy habit where you regularly reflect on why you do certain things, analyze how effectively you are doing them, and, most importantly, evaluate where your actions are leading you. It is important to take this time for yourself and to better understand your actions, behavior, and their end results.

Related: How To Stay Motivated (Even When You Really Don't Want To)

4. Check in on your goals often When unnecessary distractions eat up time that we could be dedicating to chasing our goals, it can be detrimental to self-development. Keep yourself on track by having your goals clearly written down with timelines, and be committed to those timelines. Your daily reflections should help you realize if your actions are taking you closer to your goals or further away, and if it's the latter, then it might be time to invest in some form of help, support, or mentorship to get you back on track.

5. Have clear outs The same way that your closet needs cleaning out every six months, so do the things that are distracting you. In the era of technology and countless apps, an effective clean up involves reorganizing your phone, and deleting numbers no longer in use as well as apps that do not serve you. The same applies for your social circle, too– be it friends or family, don't be afraid to remove toxic people from your life that do not make you a better human. Clear outs on every single level in life are beneficial, and they should happen on a regular basis.

6. Take days off As we're becoming more tech-savvy in our digital-centric lives, our physical and mental health just can't keep up. Quitting the use of technology cold turkey is unrealistic, but taking the odd day off can work wonders for your well-being. Start easy if this makes you anxious- leave your phone in a drawer for an hour, and build from there. You will probably feel lost at first, but you'll be able to fill this time with something fun and productive, and instead of documenting every moment of your weekend, you can enjoy each moment without the pressure of being constantly connected.

While the onset of social media has most certainly connected people, the flipside is that the distractions it causes simply don't serve you and your goals. By following these simple tips, you can reduce or completely remove these distractions, and take pride in the fact you are creating a better, more rounded version of yourself.

Related: Seven Design Tips To Create The Perfect Home Office

Marcus Smith

Founder, InnerFight

Marcus Smith is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and international athlete. With a clear vision of building brands that improve people’s lives through health, culture and environment, he has developed and established two successful businesses, including international performance company, InnerFight, and paleo food provider, Smith St Paleo. He is the host of the InnerFight podcast, the UAE’s number 1 health podcast.

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