Writer | Marketer | Creative

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Are Distractions That Bad?


Life sometimes has a funny way of mocking you right to your stupid face.

For hours today I'd thought about writing on distractions - what really counts as a distraction, how can you deal with them, what can you do to remove them completely? I even put off hammocking with my wife and starting a new book!

As fate would have it - Life must be getting a kick out of this - I'm now completely distracted as I try turning this idea into ink. I was walking into our home office, notebook in hand, pen in mouth. Then I heard it.

The swooshing of cloaks, the quick wisps of wands. The Wife had just turned on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - my favorite! I guess I can stick around for a little bit. Alas! here I am, embracing distraction. Often, truth is better than fiction. And this moment couldn't have worked out better.

Distractions are an interesting concept. When I was thirteen and my grandma unexpectedly passed on Christmas, distractions were the most beautiful creations on earth! And they're still welcomed when it comes to unwanted tasks on the To-Do list.

Distractions can also be the most dreadful of curses, should you be heartily trying to get anything done. Is there any foolproof way to completely rid yourself of cumbersome distractions, or to control them however you see fit?

I don't think so. Even if there's nothing external to steal your attention, the mind is always prone to wandering. There are, however, several ways to ward off distraction in a pinch.

Music can be the greatest hindrance or the best helper, depending on what you choose. Even-keeled ambiance like white noise or the sound of rain are good choices.

I tend to turn on The American Dollar or The Album Leaf or Hammock on Pandora. It's just enough stimulation to get the cognitive gears turning, but not enough to take your mind off work. Spotify also has a great selection of playlists under Moods & Genres > Focus.

Removing the smartphone is another option. This one's peculiar, because at times a quick distraction - 30 seconds to a couple of minutes - is exactly what you need to get over that rut you fell into during a project.

More often, though, you've got to get those texts and app notifications out of your midst.

Another option - this might be the trickiest - is to get rid of people. People are the worst. Hole up in a quiet place, remove those distractions, and crank out your work!

Distractions are interesting because their presence is nearly constant, yet their effects change per situation. Sometimes they're bad, like fighting the urge to browse Facebook when you should be working on that case or project.

Other times they're enjoyable, like the thunderstorm that has sprung up since I started this piece and has taken twenty minutes of my attention away to gaze at its majesty.