Gravity Wells

Gravity Wells are those every day things that pull us in or keep us distracted from what we set out to do or where we set out to go.

A quick Google search of “minority report advertising ” will reveal we are very close to the type of advertisement depicted in the video above. All day, everyday we have people and things contesting for our attention. Commercials, movie trailers, junk mail, email advertisement, and the dreaded pop-ups. All day long solicitation after solicitation, after …you guessed it… solicitation. But hey, it’s the 21st century. This is the tech age. You’re probably used to this by now. You’ve been well trained to ignore these things and they hardly make you skip a beat.

…Or do they?

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

More often than not there are wolves in sheep’s clothing vying for our attention. They often take the shape of things we gladly accept on a daily basis. Things such as parents, spouses, children, social media, video games, pets, TV, E-mails, or phone calls. What does your average afternoon look like?

You get home from work or school, to sit down to some complex project like homework, work you brought home, or even The Other Forty. You find a nice quite place (hopefully) and get to work. Not five minutes into it, you get a text message. Now if you’re lucky you’ll do a quick response and be on to work, if not, then you’ll find yourself in a text conversation that will last the better part of an hour, all while trying to finish your work. Let’s say you’re a lucky one. You promptly turn the phone off and get back to work. You turn on your internet device of choice and discover you now have 5 new emails. Spam, spam, sex invite, opportunity to help your dying long lost relative steal your identity, and a Facebook notification. Deleting, unsubscribing, lingering a little too long before deleting, and confirming that friend invite from your second cousin’s, twice removed tax consultant just cost you 30 – 45 minutes. But wait, you’re a winner! After all you’re part of the theotherforty.com. None of that fazed you. You quickly closed that inbox, seeing the trap for what it was, and got back to work. So you’re cruising along, in the zone, and all of sudden your loved one shows up. “Oh Hi Honey. How are you? How was your day? Can you do me a favor? You’ll never guess what happened. Are you listening? We never… You always…, etc., etc., etc. ” If you’re one of the lucky ones, you didn’t just get into an argument that compromised your entire night. I envy you. By now I think you get the point. Substitute whatever exists in your universe.

Do not get sucked into the Gravity Well you’re cruising past on your way to whatever star you’re shooting for. And trust me, they will attempt to suck you in. In the examples I named, anyone of those gravity wells has the ability to have you orbiting it for the rest of your limited time. You will quickly find your evening gone because a friend challenged you to some Madden 2015. Or perhaps you saw an email about those high heels you had your sights on for months now and not only have you lost your afternoon to a impromptu shopping spree but you also lost half your paycheck. These wells can even sling shot you from one distraction to the next. There has been many times when I’ve gotten home from work went to get a drink of water, only to stop to pick up trash on the floor in the living room, and get sucked into washing the dishes next to the trashcan, and trapped into watching 5 -10 minutes of the interesting TV program my wife was watching in the living room I had to walk through to get back to my desk.

Multitasking is a Lie!

I’ll let the proverbial dust settle before I continue. Now before you start practicing your free throw shot with your resume, just hear me out.

I’m sorry, but it’s true. You may have the ability to hold your baby, talk on the phone, and search Facebook at the same time, but guess what. Research shows, the brain can only actively think on one thing at time. When we think we’re “multi tasking” we’re switching our brains from one task to the next, most times very quickly.*1 The time it takes to get back up to full speed mentally has been estimated at 20-30 minutes.*2

I don’t know about you but I don’t have that much time to waste. But what can we do? Here’s a quick list, but ultimately you’re going to have to take a good long look at your universe, plot a course to your star and avoid all gravity wells.

  • Turn off/silence/or turn on do not disturb on your phone.
  • Turn off/remove email notifications.
  • Do your work away from high distraction areas. Try a library.
  • Tell your loved ones to give you a specific amount of time to yourself, and remind them you’ll be back to love them when you’re finished.
  • Don’t work with the entertainment source on. (Xbox, PlayStation, TV, certain types of music)
  • Do important work when children are sleep, or away.
  • Use headphones to control audio stimulus.
  • Don’t overwork. A tired mind can make becoming distracted impossible.

*1 – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95256794
*2 – http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/16/magazine/16guru.html?_r=0