It’s hard enough to stay focused as it is living in this world when you take into account that every single thing, and person, is competing for your attention. Yes, that’s right, you are so important that companies spend tons to acquire your data. What’s worst, is that most of us, including myself, would gladly give it away for a gift card or discount.
Nothing is sacred anymore: embracing time for self
The nerve of some people to have the audacity to encroach on common daily rituals that have been defined over years of tradition. For example, you work in an office, and you carve out an hour of time for your team to meet and discuss a huge upcoming project. Halfway through the meeting, the phone rings, and sure enough, someone goes mute to answer it. I am officially flipping my desk by now if I’m the one who scheduled the meeting. If you are the type of person to pick up a call mid-conversation, then you are part of the problem. Go ahead and say it, “What if it’s an emergency?” Oh yeah, how often does that happen? People use that excuse so much, just to give you at least one legitimate reason to pick up when you shouldn’t.
Another thing that is no longer sacred, lunch. I remember when I used to clock out, go get food and sit at a table peacefully while I ate my lunch. Nowadays, people get so wound up over work that they don’t even realize that they are neglecting the most important part of their day. This is the one time during the day when you can let loose, make a phone call, watch TV, eat, etc. Whatever you do, don’t work on your break. Also, don’t let anyone coerce you into working during your break because you are entitled to it.
Whatever you choose to do on your break, please don’t do any of the things on this list, says psychologytoday.com:
- Make unpleasant phone calls– Don’t call your debt collector(s) or your spouse if you are currently in a heated argument. Doing this will put you in a very bad mood. It will also affect your overall performance and level of focus, which mean you will be more likely to make mistakes. Humans are error-prone, which is why use computers to make accurate calculations. Anger makes us stupider (yes, stupider is a word I looked it)
- Workout -This may be preference, but who wants to come back to their desk all sweaty and tired? Also, all the hot people go to public gyms where they can actually enjoy the visual aesthetics. Whereas in a work environment this can be an HR issue, unless you actually work at a gym, that’s completely different.
- Eat junk food– It’s ok to have a snack to keep you going throughout the day. In fact, you can search on Pinterest and find a plethora of 5 meal per day diets that are recommended by experts. I have worked in a call center environment before, and one of the things my supervisors used to do was give out incentives for sales conversions. Of course, some of these incentives were just junk food. I remember the majority of the people there not looking very healthy. As a result, there were many flu breakouts in these call centers, in fact, they were notorious for this before the COVID-19 pandemic. Eat something with nutritional value. Also, you would be surprised how great you feel when you consistently drink water all day. This not only replenishes the system, it cleanses the system as well. All that late night binge-eating and toxins gradually come out of the body when you do this.
- Eat at your desk – This may be the most controversial statement made in this blog, but I’ll give you my opinion on why this is a bad idea. The first reason not to eat in your office, if you have one, is bugs. Yeah, that’s right, bugs don’t discriminate based on location. They don’t care where the food is, they will be there. I’ve heard stories of rats in ceilings, ants in drawers, etc. If you don’t have an office, I would tell you to just leave the work site. If you can’t leave for some reason, like the employees mentioned in this article written by the Chicago Tribune, I would say find a nice and peaceful place to break. This leads me to the other reason why you should not eat at your desk, because they will know where to find you. “They” meaning, those on the job that depend on you. If you are a key performer at your job, you are pretty popular. Sometimes I can feel when someone is going to ask to do something on my break and I leave just to avoid having to say no. Leaving the work site is a way for you to get a breather from work. It’s like using VR goggles except, it’s for real. Your mind does not know the difference, all it knows is that you are in a different space, and it automatically adapts to it. If the place you choose to go is peaceful, then the rest will follow. Likewise, if the environment you decide is not peaceful, the rest will follow.
Avoid Bad News
I know that a subtitle like the one listed above is condoning Avoidance issues. However, like the aforementioned quote above, all it takes is one bad headline to mess up your day. We all know what it feels like to get bad news, and sometimes we can’t avoid it. I’m not talking about avoiding tragic news and going into denial, this sort of behavior can lead to grave consequences. What I am saying is that for the bad news you don’t need to hear, like so-and-so shot so-and-so for no reason at all or a random person commits a random act of violence. We can honestly do without such news. It’s ok to stay informed, but we should filter out garbage. Let’s face it, when things are going good, you know it because no one is watching the news. This is because people don’t watch the news as much when good things are happening more so than bad. In fact, good things happening more than bad in America is a reality we often can’t appreciate because the news is so good at telling us the opposite. Prime example, before the War in Ukraine we had COVID-19. Everything was about COVID-19, it was inescapable. Once the political debates were had, the number of vaccinations increased and the number of deaths decreased; we were pretty much back to the same old boring news again, then the war began. It’s always something they want you to be distracted by. Not to be a dick, but a lot of that stuff does not concern us in our immediate vicinity. You think the people living in Guam give 2 shits about the people in Alaska, no, and they shouldn’t. I use Guam because the other day I googled to see where it was and man it looks like a tiny dot located about 1,000 miles (ca. 1,609 km) away from the Philippines. It looks so small that the pointer on Google is bigger than the island is on Google Maps. Shout out to the people in Guam, I see you, barely, but I do.
Let’s all take a deep breath and cool it down now. We have assessed the various aspects of staying focused and the effects of distraction. Though some effects are mild, they can be exponentially detrimental over time. Keeping a steady mind during chaotic times can be a challenge when life hits us below the belt. It is important to block out the punches we can avoid when possible.