Why being distracted isn’t all bad

I’m always distracted. That’s a bad thing, and a good thing. It’s bad because when I sit down to do my work I have a million other things on my brain other than my work. It’s good because when I’m driving to school or to work, or sitting down enjoying a cup of coffee, I’m always thinking about what needs to get done.

Having the Internet since a young age has conditioned me to be constantly multi-tasking. A report by ABC News that used a software called Rescue Time to monitor website traffic says that on average, people spend 15 minutes on Facebook per day, anywhere between nine and 49 minutes on Youtube, and five minutes on Amazon or Twitter. I’m no exception.

That means when I log onto my computer to get work done I’ll visit about five to 10 different websites first. However it also means when I’m off the computer I’ve been trained to be constantly thinking about what needs to get done next.

On CBC’s community blog, a poll of eight online distractions found that most people at work get distracted by Facebook by about 31 per cent, while it’s runner-up was checking e-mails. Although people can kill their time just by checking their e-mail,Photo by Clayton Goodwin personally I’m constantly checking and re-checking my e-mail waiting to see if someone work related has gotten back to me or gotten ahold of me.

While e-mail is undoubtedly a distraction, I consider it an essential part of my work process. Without knowing what’s happening I have a hard time focusing on my current work with the pestering thought that I could be missing something important. It’s all part of being a child of the Internet generation.

There are times where I’ll be sitting on Youtube catching up on my latest subscription, and then realize it’s two in the morning and I haven’t started my essay yet. So there is a need for self-control, for example novelist Will Self types all his rough drafts on his typewriter.

“I think I felt oppressed by the distractions of digital media and longed for a certain level of clarity and simplicity that the typewriter afforded,” Self said in an article on ocanada.com.

To say online distractions aren’t a problem is a blatant lie. However they aren’t just a problem, in many ways my online distractions have shaped me into the thinker I am today. And that’s to say I’m a person who’s always distracted by what he needs to get done next.

jmedhurst@cjournal.ca