Why distractions can be good for learning

by John Hilton02 Mar 2016
Sometimes you know you have to get on with a task, but just can’t seem to get started. We’ve all been there.

While we hate our distractions most of the time, if handled correctly they can actually be a good thing for employee performance, said Dr Jenny Brockis, medical practitioner and author of the new book Future Brain.

“Rather than just sitting there looking at a blank screen or a blank piece of paper, you can use a distraction to help you,” she told L&D Professional.

“For some people it might be listening to music or if you are at home I know some students who have something playing in the background.

“They are not actually actively watching it but they are using that distraction to help them focus more on what they need to do.”

Dr Brockis explained that little distractions can release that pressure of not starting to actually get us initiated.

We can also use distractions to help us if we are really worried about something else, she added.

Let’s say you have something that’s been bugging you for a while and stopping you from actually thinking about what you need to be thinking.

“Then we can use an alternative distraction, whether it’s going on social media or anything else, just to take our mind away from that endless loop where you are struggling to get away from that other problem that’s bugging you,” she said.

“Sometimes we can use distractions to help us by allocating time to deal with them.

“It’s about acknowledging that it’s not realistic to expect that you’re not going to have any distractions or interruptions. So you’re going to manage them so that you feel you’re in charge rather than them directing you.”

Dr Brockis added that it’s a good idea to allocate certain times in the day to be your ‘distraction time’.

"That’s the time when you don’t mind if people come and knock on the door and ask questions. You can say: I’m here from 2-3 or I’m answering my emails at this time," she said.

“So we are just redirecting our energy so we are not feeling sapped by all our distractions."


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