Distraction Addiction

Why is it so easy to check your phone? Can you even read this entire blog post without drifting off?

For some reason, doing things that we deep down know are insanely unproductive, unhealthy, and things we don’t even really want to do are… too easy to do. In fact, a part of us enjoys it.

Right now in my business I’ve got a problem client. I need to set boundaries, and stop giving so much free advice away. I know that if the client follows my advice down to the letter their company will become massively profitable.

But they don’t follow my advice. They take too long to make decisions. The pay compared to my other clients is so little.

So why is it that I’m giving so much time to a client who’s giving me so little money when I should instead be focused on the clients who pay me high amounts of cash and have 0 problems?

Recently it’s hit me that I’ve been infected, like many others, with “Distraction Addiction.”

Sending lengthy Slack messages abut how fucked up their sales team is well, let’s just say not the most pleasant thing. It leaves an angry, frustrated after-taste inside of me.

The client always seems to almost “get it,” but then they don’t. And another day of bullshit goes around. Another minute of me wasting my time.

I know in my heart that I should not check Email or Slack (from anyone) more than 2 times per day because anymore than that is completely unnecessary.

But fuck man, it’s soo hard. And you know you have this problem too, especially if you’re a social media user.

The reason why dealing with this problem client is so addicting is the same reason why casinos are so addicting: sometimes it works, sometimes not, and so you get addicted to playing the game.

A primal part of my game is addicted to the bursts of dopamine that are released when I deal with this problem client, or get a new set of messages about some random bullshit.

The fact that there’s a huge payout only makes it all the more exciting to my future-focused brain. IF things go ideally to plan, then I’d be rolling in the dough in passive income.

But… I must be realistic. Which is not something I’m intuitively good at, as quite literally I am in the category of “idealist personality types” (labeled as NF types, compared to the SJ traditionalists for example).

The truth is we all have distraction addiction to an extent. Otherwise we’d all be content with moving towards our goals and true paths in life.

You know you need to work out, but maybe that ice cream would be good…

You know you need to hammer out your homework, but maybe just a few more Instagram scrolls…

Maybe one more YouTube video also? Oh wait, and look, this recommended video looks amazing as well!

It’s a fucking rabbit hole, and you know it. I know it. Everyone knows it.

What do you remember 3 days ago from social media? Can you remember anything? I know that if I focus I’ll probably vaguely remember what I learned, but it won’t be all that important.

Not that occasional social media usage or entertainment via YouTube is some evil thing for you.

It’s totally okay to enjoy the pleasure of it every once in a while, as long as it’s done consciously.

Being completely real, a lot of the pleasure we receive from social media and other distractions is not conscious. If we could be our highest self, we would not do certain things like mindlessly browse Instagram. We might instead choose to go out and actually close business deals or meet attractive people.

It’s just easier to stare at pretty faces on Instagram, or look at your dream body already posted on Facebook, or think of what could be in the year 2050 according to YouTube.

I know for myself, and the same is true of most I know, that entering a “flow state” is deeply fulfilling. That’s the state when you’re so focused on one thing, such as a improving a project.

It leaves me feeling deeply fulfilled as if I’ve accomplished something. I know in my heart that I’ve made progress towards a goal.

For example, I’ve got a new business project that I’m working on, and on some days the work I do is laughable and distracted. But some days I lose track of time, and enter a flow state. On those days I have measurable proof of my advancement and I also feel deeply fulfilled.

We need to spend more time in a flow state, or immersed in whatever we’re doing. For this reason I’m considering even turning off notifications on my phone, and only checking it at select times (or if say I’m meeting someone).

The truth is most of what happens on your phone is irrelevant. It’s hard even for me to believe on an emotional level because a part of me says “what if you get invited to XYZ tonight and you miss the text?”

But the thing is, turning off notifications doesn’t mean not going to the party. You can still go to it, it just means that your priorities are set straight; you check your phone when you’re finished working, NOT when the world decides that you should be available.

And strangely because you do this you get more time. You enter a flow state and finish your work earlier! Now you have more time to enjoy the distracted, mindless state which to be quite honest isn’t always a bad place to be.

All I’m saying here is we should all try to be a bit more conscious of what distractions we are having, and seek to eliminate them. By “eliminate” I mean the distraction component, but not the entire component.

Facebook is awesome. So is Instagram. I message with many friends on both Facebook & Instagram every single day. I also love how my communication is diversified because if I destroy my phone something like my phone # will become obsolete, whereas I can simply sign into my Instagram & Facebook on a new account and not lose the contacts I made.

The thing is though, there’s a difference between using the platform and the platform using you.

Sometimes I feel I’m being used by the platforms more than I’m using them. I get this “junk” feeling inside my mind. It becomes harder to focus. I forget things easier. It’s a bit scary because in today’s world if you can’t focus then you can say bye-bye to your income.

Focus is probably one of the most valuable things we have. It’s already been scientifically proven people can heal themselves from all kinds of disease by doing strange visualizations and focusing obsessively on health.

The same is true of wealth. I started making money online and traveling the world at 19, but I can’t take full credit for this achievement. I feel that I was aided from some weird law-of-attraction thing, not because of skill I possessed but because of my extreme focus bringing me opportunities at the perfect time.

These opportunities were only brought to me because I focused intently. Think back on your life: certainly there is something which you focused on or obsessed about, and then it magically came.

But the stuff that you want but don’t focus on, you don’t get. Strange how that works? Wanting doesn’t give it to you, focus does.

Even if you don’t believe in law of attraction, you can’t deny that intently focusing on a goal will help you achieve it so much more than sitting around “wanting” it.

And here lies the problem of humanity’s addiction to distraction: we are slicing up our focus, making it harder and harder to focus on what we need to.

Blog posts become shorter, more visual, and easier to read. Videos become shorter. Every social media platform is kind of the same in that they use special triggers to keep you scrolling.

The valuable things in life can’t be scrolled through. Love takes time & focus, and commitment and work. And same for wealth. And friends, and travel, and life!

So for me, I’m going to start by setting some personal boundaries. No work past 1700. No more checking Slack & Email more than 2 times per day, and I’m going to stop handing out free advice to people when I know my advice is worth thousands of dollars.

And I’m going to stop letting the phone control me, but instead consciously select my own priorities.

What will you do?

-michael