Diverting Distraction

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Hello everyone and welcome back! This next post is long overdue and for that I apologize. I’m trying to take a step back, re-calibrate my schedule, and refresh my goals. Moving forward, I’ve challenged myself to sit down and write once per week so you can look forward to more consistent content in the near future!

Lately I have been thinking about distraction…mostly because I’ve been feeling so distracted. With changing rotations, endless amounts of charting, research deadlines, financial stress, social engagements, and the Olympics (much love to you Team Canada), I have been finding it increasingly difficult to tune into the task at hand and tune out all the noise in the background. I’ve always prided myself on being a multi-tasker extraordinaire; however, lately juggling 5-10 different tasks hasn’t been working for me or for what I’m trying to get done. So what to do? I’ve been trialling out a few different strategies. Here’s a little bit of what I’ve learned:

  • Recognize when it’s time for a break – This point should be bolded, underlined, circled in red, and covered in glitter. I somehow got the idea that feeling distracted meant I was being lazy and that there’s no way it could possibly represent anything else. I couldn’t be more wrong. I took a day off (gasp) and did absolutely nothing on my to-do list. Instead I listened to some of my favourite albums, read some new (non-medicine) books, napped and went to Crossfit. Initially, I felt SO guilty; however, in the following days/weeks, I had a renewed sense of focus. It was not only easier to concentrate but I had more fun doing the projects I had set out for myself. Huh.
  • One thing at a time – There’s more and more research coming out to suggest that multi-tasking isn’t cognitively efficient. It puts our brain in overdrive. We’re pouring out valuable energy with multiple background thoughts that burns our tank dry sooner rather than later. Undoubtedly, there’s times where balancing tasks may be unavoidable; however, trying to start and finish one task at a time is actually more efficient in the long run.
  • Make a timeline and be reasonable – Rome wasn’t built in a day and my 16 page research abstract certainly won’t be either. Break down tasks into smaller steps and figure out an appropriate plan of action. Then, stick to the plan. If distractions start coming in, refer back to your plan, incorporate changes as necessary and return to the task at hand.
  • Know your strengths and capitalize on them – I’ve always admired people who can plug away on papers and studying well into the wee hours of the morning. I have never been one of them. The times I’ve tried I’ve woken up with impressions of my textbooks on my face – cute. What I do know is that I do some of my best work in the mornings. Just like a hockey player shoots with their preferred hand to increase their chance of scoring a goal, I’ve tried to play to my cognitive strengths and schedule some of my more demanding tasks when I’m at my sharpest.

What helps you stay on task? How do you block out distractions? Comment below!



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