How would you rate your ability to focus on the task at hand? If you answered not very well, learning to use the Einstein Distraction Index may help.
Introduction: Einstein Distraction Index – A Method of Deep Focus
There is a story which says that when Einstein was a teenager, he developed the “Distraction Index” – hence the term Einstein Distraction Index – a method of deep concentration, which allowed him to concentrate totally upon whatever he was doing for up to 42 minutes.Manage Your Day-to-Day
I found one reference to this information on the web several years ago. I also called the university to confirm, but no one could find the information. However, I just conducted research on the Internet again, and I found a lot more information.
As a researcher with over 20 years of experience, I suspect that Einstein really did not develop the Einstein Distraction Index. About six years ago or so, while I was verifying a quote attributed to Einstein for my book Tales of People Who Get It, I spoke to an Einstein scholar at a top university in the United States. She told me that a lot of quotes and other things that are attributed to Einstein are not really so, because that’s not the kind of language that Einstein used.
UPDATE: First Published May 2010
How Einstein Distraction Index Works
Anything “Einstein” makes for a compelling story, so let’s assume for a second that the Einstein Distraction Index information is correct. The ability to focus is important in an age where there are so many things competing for our attention. This is a great technique to focus.
One of the best ways to learn to focus is to get a magazine, which will be filled with many distractions. The goal of the drill is to be distraction free for a specified period of time such as three minutes, five minutes, whatever amount of time you choose.
It is best to start off with a small amount of time and work your way up. Einstein is said to have been distraction free for 42 minutes. Wouldn’t it be great if you were distraction free for a time period greater than 42 minutes? Each of us has a bit of genius inside.
How to Use Einstein Distraction Index
- On a blank piece of paper, write the phrase “I won’t be distracted by that anymore” at the top of the page
- Set a timer for five minutes and start to read the magazine
- Each time you’re distracted, make a note of it and read the phrase you wrote out, silently to yourself
- Start reading your material again
- When the timer goes off, count the number of distractions that you had in five minutes
If you’re honest when doing this simple exercise, you’ll be surprised by the amount of distractions that you have had in five minutes. When you can be focused for five minutes without distractions, repeat the process for seven minutes and then for 10 minutes. If you keep on doing this you’ll be able to learn how long you can be distraction free.
This is another good technique to teach to your children.
Note: I learned how to use the “Distraction Index” from a High Speed Learning course taught by Lydia Danner, several years ago. Lydia Danner also introduced me to Brain Gym, a book that has lots of exercises to stimulate the brain. Brain Gyms conditions you to use both sides of the brain.
Mind Hacking: An Alternative to Einstein Distraction Index
In May 2017 while reading Mind Hacking: How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Days, I came across a technique to focus, that is close to Einstein Distraction Index. You can easily integrate the exercises into your day and is more seamless than the Einstein Distraction Index. There are two mind hacking exercises that I found quite helpful.
Mind Game: What Was My Mind Just Thinking?
The objective of the mind game is to build up awareness of your mind. You do this by frequently asking, “What was my mind thinking?” Keep track of how many times you remember to check-in on your mind. At the end of the day, record your final score. When I played this game, I found it very interesting what my mind was thinking when I did a check-in. At the end of the day, I noticed that I remembered to check in less on my mind as it got later and later.
Mind Game: Squirrel
The objective of the mind game is to become aware of whenever your attention is pulled away from what you are working on. When you are working on a task, record when your attention is pulled away. It could be a digital interruption or a human one. Try to become aware of the feeling you have when you experience the broken flow because you lose your concentration. You want to get to the point where you can ignore distractions.
Books to Complement Einstein Distraction Index