by Matt Alderton | November 30, 2017
If you find yourself working longer hours than you should be, it might be because you're too distracted, suggests contributor Andrew Cohen, founder and CEO of Brainscape.

"In today's media-rich world, it is increasingly difficult to focus on completing complex tasks for a protracted period of time," he says. "We are compelled to check our email, Facebook, Instagram, TechCrunch, and Twitter feeds every 10 minutes. Our productivity suffers from runaway mental 'switching costs' each time we are pulled away from our groove."

So, what should you do about it? According to Cohen, try gamification. "The more we deprive our increasingly starved 'reward systems,' the faster we get tired of work," he says. "I recently decided to … [embrace] my dopamine addiction through 'gamification.' I give myself more frequent, smaller rewards in the form of tiny pieces of candy. Whatever I am working on, I'll now set myself moving-target goals like 'Once I finish making this PowerPoint slide, I get a piece of candy.'"

Food, Cohen says, is a more productive distraction than Facebook, allowing him to get more done in less time while still nurturing his short attention span. "Whenever I indulge my dopamine addiction by getting my kicks from Facebook, I get sucked into a 10-minute click hole," he says. "A snack reward, by contrast, can be consumed with one hand without taking my eyes off of the current screen. Snacks are just as pleasurable as Facebook (or more so) but do not burden me with the mental 'switching' costs that other distracting rewards can entail."

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