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Monday, May 20, 2024
CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Agenda - How to beat the biggest distraction at work

CEO Agenda

How to beat the biggest distraction at work

Darren Fleming

The biggest distraction we have at work is not annoying colleagues, time consuming stakeholders or endless meetings – though that is high!

No. Rather, we carry the biggest distraction around in our head. It’s the voice that is constantly talking at us, telling us what to do, coming up with questions about irrelevant things and driving us to think of anything but what we should be working on.

The voice knows our hot buttons, what will take us off task and keep us thinking of anything but what we need to do.

The logic and persuasive powers of the voice makes it seem like we have to give into it each and every time. Fighting it seems like an almost impossible task that leaves us exhausted.

The technical name for the voice in your head is the Default Mode Network. Many people struggle with the constant chatter it generates. It is the biggest distraction in life. Learning to break free from its clutches will gain you hours a day.

The Voice is Not You

The first thing to understand is that the voice in your head is not you. You’re the one listening to it. There is no entity in our head doing the thinking. Thoughts just arise somewhere between consciousness and our awareness of it.

In the same way that our eyes detect light and our ear sound, our mind is a sense organ that detects thoughts. When our mind detects these thoughts we become aware of them. Thoughts are no more ‘our thoughts’ than the things that we see are ‘our things’.

The reason that most people struggle with not listening to the thoughts is that they have not trained their mind to ignore them. To use the analogy of lifting weights – if you want to be able to lift heavy weights you have to train for it. If you want to be able to ignore the thoughts in your head you have to train for it.

Training Your Mind

Training your mind will give you massive paybacks in a very short period of time. The trick is to train it correctly. The easiest way to do this is to focus on sensations you experience in your body. Try this technique now for 3 minutes.

Close your eyes and pay attention to the air moving across your upper lip as you breathe through your nose. Just feel the sensation as it comes out and goes back in.

It doesn’t matter if you are breathing heavy, shallow, fast or slow. This is an awareness exercise – not a breathing one.

Notice that Your Mind Wandered

If you’re like most people starting this technique your mind will wander. It will do this within a few seconds. This is normal and natural. What you are interested in is how long before you notice that your mind has wandered.

When you have noticed that your mind has wandered, bring your attention back to the sensation of the air moving across your upper lip as you breathe.

Noticing that your mind has wandered is a good thing – it’s what you are after! When you notice your mind has wandered you are aware of your thoughts. When you are aware of your thoughts you can ignore where they have gone. You do this by bring your attention  back to the sensation of the air passing over your lip. This is what you are after.

Rinse and Repeat

To increase your ability to focus at work, extend the period of time you practice this exercise every day. The longer you can practice the better. As you increase the length of your practice you are looking to shorten the length of time it takes you to notice your thoughts have wandered. If today it takes you 3 minutes to notice your mind has wandered, see if you can notice within less than 3 minutes tomorrow.

Like going to the gym, the longer you practice this technique the better the results you will get. Within a very short period of time you will notice that you can develop deeper focus and beat off the biggest distraction of the voice in your head.


Written by Darren Fleming.
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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Agenda - How to beat the biggest distraction at work
Darren Fleming
Darren Fleming is an in-demand speaker, trainer and mentor to senior leaders wanting to master their mindset. His latest book Mindset Mastery: Do Less. Achieve More is due out in April 2023. Darren works with major Australian and international companies to unblock their performance. He is passionate about helping people get out of their own way so they can stop struggling and achieve more with less effort.


Darren Fleming is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website CLICK HERE.