You’re Distracted. This Professor Can Help.

March 24, 2015 / Phil Lesch

The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 24th, 2015


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March 24, 2013
You're Distracted.
This Professor Can Help.

By Marc Parry

You're Distracted

Matthew Ryan Williams for The Chronicle

Before each class session, David Levy leads his students in a few minutes of meditation.

To complete her homework assignment, Meran Hill needed total concentration. The University of Washington senior shut the blinds in her studio apartment. She turned off the music. She took a few deep breaths.

Then she plunged into the task: Spend 15 minutes doing e-mail. Only e-mail, and nothing else.

Soon enough, though, a familiar craving bubbled up. For some people, the rabbit hole of Internet distraction begins with cat videos. For Ms. Hill, who calls herself "a massive weather geek," it starts with a compulsion to check conditions in outer space.

As Ms. Hill plowed through e-mails, the voice beckoned: If I could only just leave and go to Spaceweather.com ...

But the assignment had her trapped. After a while, she says, staying on e-mail felt more natural.

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