What to Do When You Are Distracted from Your Goal

Distractions … sweet distractions. You cost us so much. Even if we don’t realise it instantly. An average person looks at the phone 52 times a day according to a study.  On the other hand, progress with work and with a career is not only a natural desire or a basic need, it is also important from a mental health perspective.


Let’s see how we end up sabotaging ourselves.

Assuming we spend about 15 seconds on the phone each time (as a distraction), which may not be the case, such a distraction costs us at least 13 minutes a day. Let’s count the time we need to put ourselves back in working mode and we can quickly see how pricey it is to allow distractions into our life. Longer interruptions require even longer time to recover.

During the time you saved avoiding short interruptions, you could have another break which you could spend taking a walk in the park close by or having a coffee with a friend. You could painlessly integrate the daily workout in your schedule or read from/listen to your favourite book. I know, some would use it to do more work. Which is perfectly OK, too.


So, the solution is easy-peasy. Don’t look at your phone, don’t allow anything or anyone to distract you.

Here are a few techniques to prevent distraction.

  • Plan your day in the morning and include the breaks. With the breaks integrated in your schedule, you give yourself the opportunity to relax and be distracted when you need not be productive.
  • Listen to your mind and body and plan your time in shorter segments. Work in thirty- or forty-minutes segments and take a short break after each segment. With time, you will work for an hour and then even for longer periods.
  • Let your boss, colleagues, friends and family know when you need time to work without interruption and make sure you are clear on how much quiet time you have.
  • Leave your phone in another room, unless you need the phone for your work.

Working without interruption would be ideal, although we rarely have the opportunity to experience such a bliss and most of us don’t work in a Tibetan temple.

What to do when you are already distracted?

  • Let the source of the interruption (if it is a person) know how much time you have for them.
  • Train your mind to keep a line of thought to help you get back to your work faster.
  • Make a quick note of where you were before the interruption and then deal with the distraction.
  • Work on a different task which requires a shorter time to tune into.
  • Find links between topics. If you find yourself distracted by another topic, consider continuing with the new topic.
  • If the background noise interrupts you time to time, find a white noise that works for you, or a quiet place.
  • Learn to meditate, it helps develop focus.

As you can see, there are simple techniques you can adopt to reduce interruptions in your life. Though, if you distract yourself, think about why you are doing it.

  • Is it a specific time of the day when you distract yourself?
  • Is there a specific topic or question you want to avoid?
  • Or, is it a form of procrastination?

You might be interested in the following article where we talk about how you can use relaxation and visualisation to help advance your career.