You’re sitting on the subway or bus, trying to read something. It could be related to a work project or it could even be for pleasure. A person comes and sits down next to you. They’re in the middle of a loud personal conversation about their friend’s romantic antics. Now, instead of focusing on your reading, you find yourself hearing parts about someone’s love life — and, in fact, you have to consciously focus on ignoring that conversation to get your own reading done.
Most people think it’s easy to ignore these little distractions, but it’s not. The brain has a limited amount of functions it can perform at a given time. Distractions and clutter that aren’t worth attention take up some of that space in the brain and reduce the space remaining for things that matter — and thinking overall.
Ignoring anything takes energy, and the brain becomes passive when it can’t control what to think about. Ignoring clutter around you (noise, distractions) often takes the same amount of energy as focusing.
The Unaware Distractions
In a physical sense, think of your desk at work. There are usually folders, pencils, and other nick-knacks all around. You know you shouldn’t fiddle
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