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Your biggest distraction at work isn’t your phone or social media

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“Wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook,” wrote psychologist William James. Unfortunately, if this is the case then few of us can honestly say we’re wise. Knowing where to allocate our attention has become the great challenge of our lives. And we’re not making it any easier by exposing ourselves to so many distractions.

Many of us fight distraction every day without really examining what’s distracting us and why. But if we want to focus on meaningful, productive work, we need to be able to understand what gets in the way. Why do we get so easily distracted? Is it even possible to rebuild your attention in our distracting work environment?

Ask anyone about what distracts them and they’ll most likely respond with some combination of their phone, social media, and the people around them. Those are certainly distractions, but we need to zoom out a bit if we want to truly understand what’s taking our attention.

According to Daniel Goleman, author of Focus: The Hidden Power of Excellence, there are actually only two kinds of distraction:

However, according to UC Irvine’s Gloria Mark, we’re just as likely to interrupt ourselves as get interrupted by something external. As Goleman puts it, “It’s not the chatter of people around us that is the most powerful distractor, but rather the chatter of our own minds.”

Internal distractions are more difficult to treat as they can’t be fixed by turning........

© Fast Company