Visualizing a Week of Distraction

This week I decided to capture different distractions during my awake time from 7 in the morning till about midnight. Every morning or the night before, I plot my calendar for the day and then track the distraction and changes in my calendar. The questions I was testing for this week were:

How am I distracted to follow my daily schedule ? and What type of distractions?
What can I learn about my distractions to reflect on what students may be distracted from during digital learning environments ? 

The types of collected data as soon in the legend are the following :

– The schedule type : working, studying, driving ..etc

– The distractions type and number of distractions per type

– any deviations from the schedule

The Data Visualization Outcome

I noticed from the data that most of my distractions are from the phone be it text messages, WhatsApp, Instagram and calls. I have been doing some browsing and watching TV while studying with occasional distractions from my dog and delivery visitors. I tried to capture the impact of the distractions on my schedule from task completion point of view, however, nothing was there. As I ended up achieving my daily activities and maintaining a healthy study schedule provided that I’m doing two courses this term. The main challenge in the data collections is capturing the frequency of each distraction. Did I check WhatsApp message 2 times of 4 times ? Especially if the distraction was during a call from work or reading course material.

The only distraction that I didn’t capture was the distraction of data capturing itself. I logged my data in my notebook as quick as possible so I can assume that the distraction of the data gathering equals the total of my complete distraction.

The attempt to answer the first question was completed and I will reflect more in the end of the block post, meanwhile, I can start deducting that having a mobile or smart phone next to you when you work or study or even drive ( was being distracted by WhatsApp messages !) is the main source of distractions and many of our students or at least I can see in my kids having the same problem. Whether is that affecting their studies or focus during learning and doing assignment needs to different captured data.

For reference only, the following are the Dear Data week of distraction outcome… different indeed of what I delivered above.

Week 44 – A week of Distractions

13 thoughts on “Visualizing a Week of Distraction

  1. Nice drawings – distractions seems tricky as you have to catch yourself at it. I too try and get my studying part done in evenings!

  2. Great visualisation and I think a really challenging but important aspect to study. I’m not sure I would even be aware of being distracted, so I’m impressed you were able to do this so well.

  3. Logging your distractions was a great idea for this task. The visualization provides a really compelling account of the variety of distractions we encounter in our working and studying lives. Your reflection on the distraction of capturing the data itself is a good one–because it foregrounds how much data collection may be going on ‘behind our backs’ without us noticing. By doing data collection ourselves, we become more attuned to the masses of data points that are potentially available for gathering from our daily routines. Does it make you think that having some kind of ‘distraction tracking app’ would be a helpful device in the educational context?

    • Thank you Ben. I think distractions are extremely hard to measure as not always we can be aware of them !! We can have had thoughts distractions, noise distractions, feelings distractions …. hard to measure and hard to notice… and if one tracks such distractions, the whole day will be spent tracking!!!

      In educational context and maybe learning for this week’s block, I will be thinking of it more towards the end of the block but we can’t measure distractions for the purpose of tracking during the learning process … some distractions actually helps me get back to schedule and finish on time (not missing a deadline motivation)…. Measuring in outcomes is better than tracking people’s behavior. Having said that, there might be distractions worth recording : students distracting others or distracting the learning environment …. in specific context or scenario but not personal/own distractions. At work, clients asks us about tools to track what employees do during working hours when they are working from home especially for Government employees during the pandemic! I believe this is not about productivity it is about trust. Can we trust students in online / remote learning environments ! I think we should even if there are distractions. In a hybrid or joint context then we measure distractions of the learning environments.

      • Great visualization as well as a topical issue! Indeed, the employers’ intention to control what people are doing during their working time is unethical and doesn’t add to their trust-based relationships. The same with learning, as Tsai et al put it, dataveillance creates ‘the tension between enhancing a learner’s control of their studies and, at the same time, diminishing their autonomy as an active agent’ (p.564).

        However, is it true for all types of learners? Would the tracking apps like this be beneficial for some?

        • Good question ! I can’t really answer! Motivation for me is not being tracked but I know people that would achieve more if they are being tracked or monitored one way or another ! how much we enforce vs we empower learners ?

          • In continuation of our ‘some people’ conversation, I believe that for some, enforcing and empowering is kinda the same… Very much depends on the motivation type, educational background, etc.

            I was thinking of young learners in this regard. How easy is it for them to be concentrated during a Zoom lesson? Perhaps, in this case, the tracking system might be helpful to both parties: the teachers and the learners, signaling the need for help. Maybe, it could also be optional – turn it on or turn it off, up to a student.

  4. Very comprehensive, it must have taken a while to put that together. Did you feel somewhat assured (for instance you said you got all your tasks done) that actually you were more focussed than you thought?

    • Thank you for your comment. Its hard to measure the level of focus (I’m trying in this week’s visualisation to track this) I meant I had distractions but I didn’t feel that the day agenda / objectives were not met because of these distractions.

  5. I actually bought the Dear Data book and I like it more than the video or the digital version. But overall I have the same problem with their drawing that I have with yours (Please note this is 100% me problem, not you problem): the drawings are imprecise. The fact that the colour isn’t filled perfectly within the squares , with perfect shading, drives me bananas. I guess it’s like when someone you are talking to had spinach stuck in their teeth: you cannot unsee it or look past. It takes me a shockingly long while to finally drag my brain past that roadblock and actually look at the data. I’m saying this to show how ASD works since you expressed interest. But it also shows you that graphics do not need to be perfectly drawn. Rather, they need to be clear to read. For example, the use of colour, and splitting the colour column and the symbol column makes your data very clear. There’s also something to be said about having the hand drawn thing on a website. The website is perfectly square, even coloured, perfect font. It makes the handwriting and drawing look even more imperfect – I have the same feeling about mine. It’s an interesting contrast. I noticed that the Dear Data book has very little printed font text. I presume this is the reason.

    Now as for the data: you seem to look at it from the point of view of tackling the distractions. Have you thought about looking at it from the other angle? What does tell you about your schedule and time usage? Do you schedule studying for the times your brain is the most focused?

    • Thank you for your feedback… As soon as I read your comment..I checked the book because I got it too .. you have a very valid point.

      As for your question, again you are right ! I wanted to reflect on this during the end of the block blog but its true…. Work is taking priority during my best brain time! However it is the reality. This week I tried to structure better times for studying including mixing it up of morning and evening work!

  6. Pingback: A week of Performance tracking | Dima Kandalaft’s Data Visualisation Blog

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