Removing Distractions to Focus on Growth

It is amazing how removing something so small can have such an impactful change on your productivity. For the longest time I found that I would plan out my days to schedule in time to work on writing, drawing, coloring and reading to achieve as much as I could every day. However I found that I would always lose myself to distractions and, as a result, would fail at my daily goals. It took me some time to recognize that I was not quite progressing as far as I could. I took measures to help straighten out my physical health, but now I needed to improve my ability to focus.

I recently read an article titled: “While Everyone is Distracted By Social Media, Successful People Double Down on an Underrated Skill” by Michael Simmons. At first, I thought this was one of those “And Doctors hate him for this!” kind of posts but I gave the article a chance as I’m always curious about learning new things. I was genuinely surprised about how much I agreed with the article.

To summarize, the article discusses how there are 4 side effects of constant engagement in social media. The first issue is the content shock that we feel from all the information out there. There’s so much information out there, most of it unnecessary and distracting rather than helpful. Truth was that I often found myself drowning in comments and facebook posts that never contributed to my own goals in life.

The next issue was the idea of echo chambers. Now this one is not so black and white as it depends on what you’re discussing. Often times when I would look for criticism and feedback from my friends, I would find that most say the standard “This is awesome! I love it!” etc. This is helpful for self confidence but not exactly the best for growth. I actually found myself doing this for many other people as well. However when I started reaching out to people who were more willing to criticize and provide feedback for my work I found that my skills and mindset started to develop more and I saw myself improving as such.

The third issue, which we all suffer from on a day to day basis I feel, is the constant distractions thrown at us. I admit that I am one of those people who would always check their Facebook first thing in the morning for my daily updates. I would also browse through Imgur for an hour just looking at memes and other silly pictures. It was only after I read this article I really started to study what it was that I was doing instead of focusing on what I wanted to achieve. It’s amazing how many small things in our day to day lives serve only to make us stagnate in place.

Finally, what many people develop as a result of constant updates via Facebook, Instagram, etc, is the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). For a time I did suffer from this as I would see the achievements of others on Facebook and feel like I was far behind in life. However I noticed something that happened to me when I posted my first book. When I was on the other side, the side that could possibly create that FOMO feeling, I realized that I came to crave that adoration and assurance that I was making the most out of my life. It no longer became about my goal of being an author or becoming an artist, rather I started needing people to tell me that I was. I needed people to confirm that I was advancing in life.

Social Media is both fantastic but also a great burden on our day to day lives. It’s fantastic to be able to keep up to date with our closest friends and family with just a click of the button, but there becomes a kind of idleness that spawns from it. Something I’ve noticed with many people is a feeling of being content with just posting every day rather than creating something new or developing themselves. Slowly I began not following these people on facebook so I no longer saw their posts. Then something interesting happened.

I started to see more ads and news articles on my feed than actual posts.

I still saw internet debates and meaningless posts every now and then, but the majority of people I knew to be working on their own projects almost never posted anything. I asked these friends and realized that they almost never go on social media. My girlfriend whom I consider my partner in creative growth explained to me how when she left social media, she found herself freer to learn new facts and skills. It was like a liberating feeling. It took me some time, but after I read this article I deactivated my Facebook account.

The next morning was amazing. I still woke up at the same time, but found that I didn’t go to Facebook because I couldn’t. Rather I started listening to podcasts and looking up art tutorials. I started writing and drawing more. I even made drastic progress on an art piece that I thought I couldn’t until I learned more theory work.

I don’t think social media like Facebook, Instagram and snapchat are inherently evil, I think they may just have a powerful pull on our lives that is difficult to resist. For me, I found that I couldn’t live with the distraction being available to me. I needed to cut it out of my life for me to be free to grow. I know there are people that can handle it in their lives and still be productive and I really do envy those people. But I felt this was necessary for myself and I feel so much better for it.

For any who would like to read this article that changed my perspective, here you go! :

Hope this helps! 🙂

– Raphael

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