The Burnout Blog


Cutting Out Distractions Can Help

May 12, 2021
Woman holding a smartphone

At any given time, our senses are being bombarded by distractions.  Sights, sounds, smells: all kinds of sensory stimuli and intrusions on our minds, vying for attention daily.  Being able to cut out distractions is a valuable tool that gives you the edge in avoiding and combating fatigue.

First- Be aware of the distractions. Many people go through life bumping up against sensory distractions, unaware of the impact it is having on them. A young boy would oftentimes get in trouble every time his family took him out for Chinese food.  No matter how much effort his family put into setting limits for him and warning him to behave, he would always end up ruining the evening with an outburst.  It turned out that the vibrant orange color of the walls in their local Chinese restaurant was causing this small boy to become distracted and overwhelmed.  The only way he knew how to let off the steam of his sensory discomfort was to act out.

Another woman found herself frequently feeling angry at work. She was determined to get her work done and diligent about fulfilling her responsibilities. Her nature was generally kind and caring, but at work she found herself feeling angry and simply didn’t know why. It turns out that the radio station playing in the background at work was set to a rock station that often played loud guitar riffs that made it very difficult for her to focus.  Completely unaware that the music was influencing her mood, she would lash out as a result of being overstimulated – without even knowing the cause.

It is important to realize the impact that distractions may be having on you. The next time you feel out of sorts, stop and assess your environment.  Is there something going on that might be causing you to feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable? Do you smell, see, hear, or feel something that you didn’t realize was bothering you?

Second- Learn to take control of your environment.  Once you start to pay attention to what aspects of your environment are affecting you, you can control that environment and make it work for you. If you are always cold inside air-conditioned buildings, make sure to carry a sweater with you as a rule. If you can’t handle the glare of fluorescent lighting, set up ambient lighting in your office. If you are distracted by smells, consider having a favorite scent at the ready that you can enjoy in place of the offensive smell.  If your distractions are a television or a gossiping friend or co-worker, consider setting those things off-limits when you are working.  Banishing distractions is often a good way to keep up your focus and your momentum.

Finally- Teach others how distractions might be hurting them. Again, most of the world doesn’t pay much attention to what is affecting their senses. The more you become aware of your own distractions, the more you will notice how other people are affected by their own. Be an educator and a champion for distraction-free spaces. Teach others how to identify their own distractions and share alternatives that will reduce their fatigue and overwhelm to help make their time more productive.

Distractions are a thief of productivity and comfort. Over time you may start to feel weary and not even know why. Becoming aware of – and cutting out – distractions is an excellent way to prevent fatigue and diminish fatigue.


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