How much of our day do we allow ourselves to be distracted? Taken off track or disturbed in that all too important task we want to complete? We are bombarded these days with so much ‘noise’ and junk every day – email, news programmes, TV, music constantly everywhere we go, Facebook and so many more distractions that deter us from our work and other activities. Somehow it seems to have taken over our lives.

We see it all the time – advertisements on the TV in cafes, in the Mall, music – almost always too loud – in the shops and cafes where we eat and meet with friends and business colleagues.

Phone distraction

People out walking or running with earphones listening – listening to what? Are we missing out on the wonderful noise of nature and of life itself – the simple whisper of the breeze in the trees, the sound of the ocean waves, birds in the trees, children laughing and playing happily in the park? Are we so distracted all of the time that we are in danger of missing out on the most important aspect – ourselves, our families, our children and our businesses? When did you last sit down to a meeting or a meal without your phone there on the table beside you? Did you truly connect with the person opposite you?

Research shows us that people are engaged only on average 30% of their day in the workplace (yes, shockingly that is true) – distractions from outside, social media, stress and health & financial woes. Yet this is where we spend the greater part of our day and still we are not completely engaged.

Simon Sinek (His talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action is listed as the third most popular TED presentation of all time) spoke recently on his blog about this exact topic and how we are now so attached to our mobile phones these days. And we are – constantly. How often do you look at or check your phone? Have you missed something? Has there been an update on Facebook or a Tweet that you missed? A text from someone? I see it in meetings, at restaurants when couples are out together – I watched a lady recently who was completely engrossed in her mobile phone while her two very young children lagged behind her in the street. I see it in parks where parents sit on the sidelines while young children call them, wanting to engage with Mum or Dad – and they are head down over their phones paying them no particular attention at all.

Are we in danger of losing connection? Connection to life itself – is it going to pass us by while we read the latest news about Donald Trump or watch a TV programme that is truly inane and adding no value to our lives whatsoever? Are we filling our heads with ‘clutter’?

In the words of the Spice Girls – “So tell me what you want, what you really, really want”………

I suspect it may be to have more meaningful relationships, someone to love and who will love us, to watch our children grow up happily, to have success in our businesses and work. To feel fulfilled. To be connected to the world in which we live.

I have been prompted today to write this by two things – a business coach who talked today about ‘switching off the noise’ and also the realisation that I am guilty – guilty of allowing this never-ending stream of mindless ‘chatter’ to distract me from the things that are important and, worse, from taking time to build my business and fulfil my own dreams and aspirations.

So….. I encourage you to do what I have now done. Turn your phone on silent while you are working on that important task – I am sure, like me, you have a message service on your phone if someone calls; turn off the notifications that distract us every few minutes; put your phone away when you are engaging in a business meeting or lunch with a colleague or loved one. To stop checking or scrolling through Facebook when, before we know it, that half an hour goes by so easily.

And, finally, once distracted from what you were doing – how long does it actually take for your brain to disengage from the ‘noise’ and ‘chatter’ and to re-focus on the task in hand……. apparently 8 minutes or more. So, how much time do we lose every single day that we will never get back again……..? Something to ponder on perhaps.

Katie English