Attention and distraction go hand in hand in an online world. It is super easy for people to get distracted while working online because they can easily open another browser and surf around for a bit and before you know it you’ve lost hours.
Generally I don’t get as distracted when I am working on projects that are offline because there isn’t an easy distraction factor and the tasks tend to be hands on.
Also I find I am more distracted before I begin a project because I tend to procrastinate and find other things to do. Cleaning my house becomes uber appealing when given the choice of homework or cleaning. However, once I get started on something I tend to hyper focus and knock it out.
Here is how my attention assignment played out:
I sat down to start working on homework and immediately realized how beautiful the weather was so within a few minutes I was daydreaming about being at a park or a beach. I got up to shut off the AC and opened all my windows and contemplated going to the park. I refrained as I had a lot of work to do and would be distracted even moreso if I ventured out.
It was a struggle not to focus on this exercise and as I continued to work my thoughts drifted back to this assignment. I was being distracted thinking about being distracted! Usually I think about other assignments or tasks that I have to accomplish while I am attempting to complete something else. I think my brain goes in to a bit of frenzy and tries to schedule and reschedule my task lists.
I found myself texting and instant messaging with friends and ended up taking a break from my online reading to scroll through Facebook.
After a few minutes I went back to work on my homework, during which time I received two phone calls which I answered; one from a friend and one from work. I know had to open a new browser to issue a direct bill, follow up with the hotel to ensure they received the direct bill, and then follow up with the employee that was waiting for payment to be sent on their behalf.
After reading online for what seemed like forever I began to wonder how much more there was to this chapter. I flipped through the pages to get an idea of how much more I had to read and how much longer I had to dedicate to the task at hand.
My Thoughts on the experiment:
I enjoy experiments like this that bring awareness to our behaviors in a media driven world. This experiment reminds me of another assignment from my Intro to Communications course last semester. The class was challenged to a 24 hour media fast. Being disconnected felt so refreshing!