Distactions don’t find you, you find them; or at least that’s the conclusion of a recent study from the University of Illinois. According to the research, big tasks don’t automatically come with big distractions, and the best defense against distractions is having a clear motivation.

Although we often believe that the more mental focus and strain we dedicate to a single task, the more likely we are to get distracted, the opposite appears to be true. Rather it’s the simpler tasks that cause individuals to become distracted more easily. The team concluded that the more complex the activity, the more attention you had to give the task at hand, and the less time you had for outside distractions.

"Between the inner world of solving a problem and the outer world - what's going on around you - there seems to be a need to disengage from one when heightened attention to the other is required," explained study co-author Alejandro Lleras in a recent statement.

The team explained this finding on a theory called "inattentional blindness," which suggests that people engaging in tasks often fail to notice strange and unexpected events. The bigger the task, the less likely they are to notice their surroundings.

To determine this, the researchers tracked volunteers' eye movements as they solved math problems of various difficulty while looking at neutral photographs. In doing so, they found that the more difficult the math problem, the more likely the volunteers' eyes were to wander.

If distractions are still getting in the way of you and your work, the study may have some advice for you; find some motivation. According to their research, task difficulty was not the only predictor of an individual’s likeliness to get distracted.

Other factors also play a role, like the ease with which we can perform a task, as well as a decision that is internal to each of us: how much we decide to cognitively engage in a task,” explained study co-author Simona Buetti in a statement.

According to Time, other ways to help keep distractions at bay are to take frequent short breaks, minimize multitasking, and establish a to-do list to help keep you on track. If all else fails, you can always try for the good ole’ caffeine boost to jump-start your focus. Just try not to overdo it, as too much caffeine can actually have a counterproductive effect.

Source: Buetti S, Lleras A. Distractibility is a function of engagement, not task difficulty: Evidence from a new oculomotor capture paradigm. The Journal of Experimental Psychology. 2016

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