This week in my social internet course, we were assigned readings about distraction caused by the internet. The readings really resonated with me and a lot of my classmates. We used the reading in class in three ways: demonstrate the layout of a paper and how to write a literature review, finding gaps / stepping stones in literature and a little group “therapy session” on coping with distraction. For my reflection I am going to focus on the last two topics:
To help us find the gaps / stepping stones in the 7 assigned readings, we were split into groups of 3 or 2. We were given 40-ish minutes to come up with a research goal and question and then 2 minutes to pitch the idea to the class. What I found extremely interesting was that all 4 groups came up with different research ideas. This made class discussion more interesting but also on a personal level I found this refreshing! I hope to make a career out of academic research and think that the ability for four new perspectives to be created after reading 7 articles shows we aren’t going to run out of research topics anytime soon!!
After this we began the “therapy session” part of class. Our teacher started by giving a metaphor for thinking about distractions:
If you get a puppy you might want to train him/her to stay in one place. You may do this by giving the puppy a mat or a specific place to stay and then watching him/her. Once the puppy strays you would bring it back to its designated area and remind it to stay! This will help teach the puppy to obey.
We then put this metaphor into use – for 2 minutes we were told to concentrate on our breathing and to attempt to keep track of how many times the “puppy” (our mind) wandered to a different place other than our breathing. I counted about 8 times that I knowingly saw myself wandering from my breath. I did however notice that I was able to concentrate more on my breath as the two minutes got closer to the end but during the beginning my puppy was all over the place, especially to the clock ticking!
After this exercise we discussed different ways to cope with distractions – I think the best way is to take a break! Our professor mentioned working for 50 minutes and then taking a break before continuing. I added to the discussion that I thought this was a great suggestion and I was going to try it. Once I got home to try this idea out while writing a paper, I remembered that even as a freshman I use to practice this technique. A group of us from history class would get together to write papers in the library and set a timer for 50 minutes and once it went off we would get 10 minutes to respond to text message and check social media before starting again. This brings me to the next topic discussed in class – we have the power to control the machine, not the other way around. We also have the tools to stop ourselves from becoming too involved while trying to accomplish a goal. As a freshman I used these techniques and as time passed I forgot, but I am aware of that now! I am going to make a conscious effort to attempt to limit my distractions.
I’m starting this change now! Currently while I write this my phone timer is sent for 45 minutes – once it goes off I am going to take a break until 9 and then start the time again! I am also going to try the 2 minute breathing drill once a day. I am going to try this for 10 days (not counting the weekend) and I’ll let you know how it works!