How to Survive the Distraction Epidemic

How to survive digital distraction
Written by Ellen Goldman

Stop into any office in corporate America and you’ll be sure to notice the frenzied, hurried, chaotic pace of most employees. Phones are ringing; email and text alerts are sounding, faxes are coming in and out, and computers are humming.

Whether you work for corporate or are an entrepreneur, I’m willing to bet your email is dinging every five minutes, phone is ringing, and every social media platform is notifying you of an update. Continue on to learn about 4 ways you can survive the digital distraction.

Stop into any office in corporate America and you’ll be sure to notice the frenzied, hurried, chaotic pace of most employees. Phones are ringing; email and text alerts are sounding, faxes are coming in and out, and computers are humming.

If you think this is just going on in the brick and mortar buildings of big companies, take a look at the entrepreneur doing business from his or her home office. Chances are the same activities are happening. Add to that the whirling of the washing machine from the load that just got thrown in, the dog barking and the gardener knocking on the door who wants your attention for a minute.

Even when you leave the office, there’s no escaping the distractions. Bluetooth conversations continue whiling driving in the car, text messages divert your attention from dinner cooking on the stove, and the noise from your kid’s video game is deafening.

Where in the world can you go for some peace and quiet and escape? Chances are it’s into the on-line world of surfing the web, checking Facebook posts, or playing Candy Crusher. We desperately need a break from all the noise, and most choose the anesthesia of technology.

Technology is a wonderful thing when it’s used to our advantage. But when we abuse it, which sadly, most of us do, it’s detrimental. Technology allowed us to be accessible 24/7, which severely challenges our life-work balance. It also is a source of constant interruption whenever we are trying to get something accomplished. It has left us feeling like there are just not enough hours in the day to get it all done. The result – a society of exhausted, overwhelmed, overweight, out of shape, and burnt out individuals.

In an attempt to survive, we master the art of multitasking and time management. And, we cut back on our sleep in an effort to cross one more thing off the never ending “to-do” list. The solution creates more harm than good.

It is becoming more and more apparent that this way of living is seriously impacting not just our happiness, but our health and brains as well! There has been an explosion of research and information from the laboratories of neuroscience, thanks to the brain imaging technology that is now available. Yes, technology that is teaching us that if we don’t put boundaries on our personal technology, our brains will suffer, and it is detrimental to our health.

Brain research does not support that multitasking is an advantage. For the brain to function optimally, it needs its full beam of attention on one activity at a time. As a matter of fact, the more we multitask, the higher the propensity for error and the greater the drop in efficiency. Ever send off the wrong email to the wrong person, and then waste time and energy profusely apologizing? Or need to rewash a load of wet laundry that is now stinky cause it’s been in the machine for three days?

Same goes for sleep deprivation. Even a single night of skimping on the body’s required 7-8 hours has shown a marked decrease in reaction time, analytical thinking and focus. Fatigue causes an increase in irritability and moodiness, and the propensity to react emotionally rather than logically.

Skimping on sleep can also affect your health and brain in more ways than you can imagine. Chronically sleep-deprived individuals tend to exhibit bad lifestyle habits – reliance on caffeine and sugar, skipping exercise, increased alcohol and cigarette consumption. Chronic sleep deprivation can put you at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, and obesity.

As for time management, it sounds good in theory. However, no matter how skilled you are, if you run out of energy and crash, you won’t be able to apply all those time management skills you perfected.

So how can we all survive this distraction epidemic? Make a decision that your health and well-being are your single most important asset, and begin living your life to protect it. Take a personal stand that this is not the way you want to live, and this is not the behavior you want to role model for your children. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

1. Make sleep a priority in your life rather than an afterthought. Shut down all technology at least one hour before bedtime, and keep your cell phone and devices out of your bedroom.

2. Create boundaries around technology use. Keep cell phones away from the dining room table, or in your bag while in restaurants. Stop texting, emailing and talking on the phone while driving. You will not only enjoy the quiet break, but you may just save your or another person’s life!

3. Stop multitasking the things that are important. That includes your relationships. Focus on one task and one person at a time.

4. Create specific times during the day to work on important tasks. Remove all distractions and retrain your brain to focus on one thing at a time.

5. Prioritize self-care. It is essential, not a luxury. Food is fuel, so fuel yourself with healthy, nourishing selections. Schedule exercise and stick to it. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water and non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day.

Take the time out to enjoy your life, rest and rejuvenate. You will come back to all your work refreshed and alert, with a brain that is no longer impacted by all the distractions. You are back in control!

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

Over time and with maturity, I’ve accepted that there are many things that will happen that I cannot control.   People will disappoint you, loved ones get sick, opportunities don’t turn out the way you’ve hoped.   But, I’ve learned to stay proactive about the things I can control, such as my healthy habits and my reactions to others and events.   Most importantly, I’ve learned to let go and accept the things I can’t control and have faith that things work out in the end, and troubled times pass.

2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

I appreciate my energy level and my discipline.   Because of both, I get lots of my goals met and enjoy the process.   And I have the energy after working all day to enjoy my family, friends and leisure time.   I also greatly appreciate having a husband in my life who is self-sufficient, independent and secure.   I travel a lot, and I know he can keep himself entertained and take care of the household, himself, and my dog!   I appreciate his warm welcome when I return!

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

Without a doubt, my greatest achievement is raising my daughters to become lovely young women who follow their dreams, aren’t afraid to take risks, and always stay connected to family.   Next would be creating my entrepreneurial business.   I am proud to earn a living working for myself and do work that I am passionate about, which is meaningful and impacts others.   Right now the goal I am working on is creating information products and home-study programs that will allow many to benefit from coaching psychology in a self-paced, highly affordable format.

4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?

I was perfect, I’d never “slip” trying to control what my family members eat, or pushing too hard on taking better care of themselves.   It’s that “being in control” thing that does still occasionally creep up on me.   But it’s that exact imperfection that creates my Identity!   I’m so passionate about “self-care” and doing everything you can to stay healthy, that it makes me the “lovable health nut” my friends and family refer to me as.

5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

I Love My Life — most of the time, anyway!   I’ve a great family, wonderful friends, a business I am passionate about which gives me the flexibility to do many things that bring me joy.   Such as travel to LA to see my daughter, or fly to Florida to visit my folks, and continue to work.   I’ve got many interests which I pursue, such as travel, theatre, hiking, biking or reading.   Despite the many trials and tribulations that I’ve faced (as we all have), I greet most days with energy, enthusiasm, excitement, and a great sense of gratitude for the many blessings in my life.   My relationship with Identity Mag is one of them!

About the author

Ellen Goldman

Ellen Goldman created EllenG Coaching to help overextended business professionals and entrepreneurs who are worried about their health and happiness, and are either exhausted, burnt out, out of shape, overweight, or all of the above! Through her coaching programs, motivational talks and online courses, she shows clients how to integrate health into their busy lifestyles with simple, small steps that lead to massive change, resulting in greater energy, focus, productivity and happiness every day. With 30 plus years experience in the health and fitness industries, working as a personal trainer and certified wellness coach while raising her family, Ellen knows first hand that you do not need to sacrifice your health and happiness to have a successful career. Her mission is to help others thrive both personally and professionally. To learn more about Ellen and her wellness programs, visit