No I’m not talking about some form of scary car racing I am referring to our ability to distract ourselves from the goals that truly matter and then to drift from one idea or activity to another. Consider this – how often do you watch the TV, and how often do you flick between channels when something gets a little boring, less gripping or heaven forbid the adverts come on. This is what distraction is all about – where we switch between one stimulant to another, constantly searching for something else to hypnotise our senses.
It’s frightening how much I find myself doing this, I used to have postcard above my desk that said in bold letters “Stop looking for ways to distract yourself!” It was positioned directly where my line of sight would take me to if I was to drift away from what I was currently doing. There are always going to be days when we are on fire and nothing can stop us, by contrast we all know there are others when a powerful cattle prod is required.
People who flit from one thing to another are said to resemble butterflies when they just float around from one idea or activity to the next, or worse still they have magpie tendencies where they constantly chase after the next shiny thing in the window. These are the traits of individuals that suffer from Distraction and Drift – and we all do – there is no getting away from it, we just need to understand it, forgive ourselves for being human and then manage it.
When you look up the word distraction in the dictionary it is described as an obstacle to concentration, by contrast Drift (when not looking at snow) refers to wandering from a set course or point of attention; stray. So the combination of the two can be a serious condition – not only do you have little idea how and where you are trying to get to, every step forward is blighted by distraction – 1 step forward 3 to the side a couple more back and then another one on the angle. Does this describe how you work, how you prepare to achieve your goals and success? Believe me it really does need fixing, and just using a simple plaster (band aid) will not be any good for you in the long-term, nor the short term in most instances.
So I would like you to consider now what causes your Distraction and Drift? For me I seriously have to entertain the other half of my brain so I can focus on the stuff that really works and not become distracted. This may sound a little psychotic but I am assured it is normal, so for me putting on an album or even a musical in the background can work really well. I am always amazed at how quickly 45-55 minutes will suddenly go and how much quality work is achieved without distraction. Only you know what you need to do to entertain that part of your brain that gets distracted easily when you are trying to work, even if it is a little weird implement it now and measure the difference.