As humans we all have those things that distract us from doing the work that has to get done in the moment. Younger generations has more distractions than ever before. Then we have the desires and urges to attend to those distractions whatever the case may be. Before all the technological advances it used to be the urge for kids to actually go outside and hang out with friends in person and to just be outside, while today’s society has an abundant number of distractions like smartphones, TVs, computers, the internet, video games, social media, emails, and so much more. Ever since these distractions came into play our ability to do deep work that produces high quality outcome.
Cal Newport, states in his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, “You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it,” he then continues to say how “overtime these distractions drained their finite pool of willpower until you can no longer resist.” As time goes on the technology becomes more advanced and more involved in our lives kids have been getting access to them at a younger age than ever before. This negatively impacts them in the sense that their attention span becomes shorter and shorter. They also have a constant urge and desire to have some type of technology whether it is their parents phone or their own (yes, their OWN since they are getting it at younger age), a tablet, or the TV.
In fact, there are numerous videos that show young kids with something they love and can’t resist in front of them whether that is candy or other food, stuffed animal, technology of some sort, basically anything. The parents would then tell them that they have to go do something, but they are not allowed to touch it and when they return they must see that item still there to get a reward. So when they leave, we can see the urgency in the kids to have what is in front of them, and at times they may take the item play with it or eat a little bit but then put it back when their parents return or some will give in to their desire and urgency and eat the whole thing or be playing with it when they return. Adults are just as susceptible to their desires and urges as much as kids. They are becoming more and more addicted to their smartphones and other technologies. So when it is time to do work or get things done around the house or anything else, their desire to be on their phone or do anything than what they are supposed to be doing increases since the more work they have the more their desire is to be distracted. Also, their willpower to fight these urges decreases more as adults because there is more distractions than ever.
Newport also talks about how adding routines and rituals can develop a good deep work habit in order to keep that limited willpower from running out when distractions arise. I’ll admit that when I was growing up my parents set a routine for me after school where in order to go to my extra curriculars like dance, watching any of my shows, or going to hang out with friends I had to have all of my homework done. This ultimately helped me once I went on to higher education like college because I was able to prioritize and get things done when they should be and be able to do deep work. I do have my moments just like everyone else, but for the most part the routine helped. However, this isn’t the case for many people and are distracted by many things and don’t get there work done or done to the best they can possibly do it. Adam Gazzaleyand Larry D. Rosen stated in their article, “Remedies for the Distracted Mind,” that “A barrage of interrupting email messages, texts, Snapchats, and notifications of social media posts equally beckon a student studying at home to switch attention from the less interesting work at hand.” We can’t control how interesting the work is but we can control how we approach the work by putting the phone out of reach were we won’t be tempted from it, switch between sitting and standing, or even by listening to music you like that will motivate you.
In the article “A Sociology of the Smartphone”, Adam Greenfield states “For many of us, they are the last thing we look at before sleep each night, and the first thing we reach for upon waking. We use them to meet people, to communicate, to entertain ourselves, and to find our way around. We buy and sell things with them. We rely on them to document the places we go, the things we do and the company we keep; we count on them to fill the dead spaces, the still moments and silences that used to occupy so much of our lives.” This goes hand in hand with it being a distraction. We are so addicted to our phones that we use it for every little things in our lives, that if we didn’t have it we would be freaking out and lost not knowing what to do. Today’s society is being controlled by the phones that we are on it to begin and end our day and use it every minute during the day. With all of the distractions and our phones being the main one it’s hard to get any deep work done which is why routines and having a ritual to follow in order to do the deep work to keep out distractions will be the best way for everyone. We can all use a break from our phones every now and we will survive.