The value in avoiding distractions
It is Meditation that allows us to learn how to ignore distractions which allows us – or more properly our left hemisphere - to focus on what it does best, handling the familiar.
At its very best the left hemisphere goes into ‘flow’ where time seems to pass without notice, we don’t take note of feeling hungry and we are immune to external distractions. In this state, we can get a lot of detailed work done.
University of Pennsylvania psychologists Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman conducted a study where they measured college students’ IQ scores and levels of self-control upon entering university. Four years later, they looked at the students’ grade point averages (GPA) and found that self-control was twice as important as IQ in earning a high GPA.
It takes about 15 consecutive minutes of focus before you can fully engage in a task, before you are in flow. Research shows that people in a flow state are five times more productive than they otherwise would be.
When you click out of your work because you get a sudden impulse to check the news, Facebook, a sport’s score, you suddenly remember something you haven’t done, or whatever, this pulls you out of flow meaning you must go through another 15 minutes of continuous focus to re-enter the flow state.
Being able to ignore distractions has real benefits.