The Value of Distractions

Written by Yuri Karabatov. Argue with me on Twitter.

Life is too full of distractions nowadays. When I was a kid we had a little Emerson radio and that was it. We were more dedicated. We didn’t have a choice. ~ Stan Getz

We fall for distractions every day. Distractions hinder our progress towards the final result, like speaking a foreign language.

Fortunately, we can turn this disadvantage of human nature into a powerful friend.

We will not avoid distractions, we’ll embrace them instead and make them useful.

Let’s do it in three easy steps.

1. Identify

Too often we lose track of what we’re doing throughout the day, only to face evening with nothing done and the day somehow gone by. We must take control and put an end to this.

Notice what you are doing during the day, especially if it’s something you shouldn’t be doing; take notes if necessary. Identifying distractions is much easier than eliminating them.

Look out for activity you do repeatedly or randomly during the day. I did it recently, so let’s take some of my observations as an example.

  • I wake up in the morning and go to the kitchen to make breakfast, picking up a random book to read while eating;
  • When I’ve finished reading something on my computer, I open a new tab in the browser, and check one of the entertaining sites.

Some actions are repeated several times a day, while others are just useless.

Let’s move on to the next step.

2. Modify

As language learners, we should have maximum exposure to our target languages, so we’ll focus on that.

The main idea behind modifying distractions is to deprive yourself of any options. You have distractions because you can have them, it’s that simple. By having no ability to be distracted, you won’t be.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to do that, so we’ll settle for modifying the distractions to become useful.

Again, a couple of examples to get you started.

If you watch TV during the day, delete all the channels that are not in your target language. When you turn the TV on, you’ll have no choice but to watch a program in your target language.

If you pick up random books to read, like I do, it is usually the nearest one. Make sure that the nearest books are always books in your target language or textbooks, so that when you decide to pick up a book to read, it’s one of those.

When I open a new tab in my browser, I face 8 site thumbnails and often click one of them to check what’s new. I replaced all of them with sites in Japanese, which is my target language. Now every time I subdue to clicking one of the thumbnails, it takes me to a Japanese site.

You get the idea. Modify all the distractions you face throughout the day in such a way, that you don’t have a choice but to be exposed to the language you’re studying.

3. Enjoy

Now that the distractions help you learn languages, enjoy your day!

I’m sure you are inventive and will come up with new distractions as you go along. Don’t worry, deal with them the same way.

Don’t forget that too frequent distractions mean you don’t like what you’re doing. If you’re distracted too often while studying, it’s a sure sign that you’re bored. Check out this post to make study more fun.

Do you keep the secret of eliminating distractions? Share your thoughts on Twitter and in the comments!

No related posts.