I am easily distracted. It goes well with my personality type, as I like shiny things and can easily scatter my processes to a final goal. But what is often a positive in this realm can also be a huge negative.
Distractions are positive for me, believe it or not, when they are rabbit-trails or fresh ideas for me to ponder and gain energy from. For many of us who are more perceiving than judging in our social world the difficulty can be in staying on track, but our magic can also be found in our ability to receive energy from varied sources, and somehow bring them all together in the end. This to me a form of positive distraction. If I focus too long on one task or problem I burn out and end up rehashing the same sequence repeatedly. I have to walk away before that point hits.
But a variety of good distractions help me focus on a unique solution, and I end up bringing others with me joyfully.
But there are also bad distractions. A noise that I did not create, a mess I know I need to clean up eventually, people being disrespectful in the downstairs rental… Just a few that stand out right now. I can have the Rose Bowl playing in the background as I write this blog post, and will turn around from time to time to watch a replay, but the door being slammed repeatedly almost sets me off. It was not my noise. It takes me more time to grab hold of my productive mental track after these distractions than if I add too many positive distractions to my workload. Uncanny. Unfortunately, reality rarely helps us out with our ideal situation for work or play.
So what do you do to fight bad distractions?
I have tried a few tricks that actually help.
- I create a recurring ‘on ramp’ to my train of thought. If I get distracted, and feel irritated in the moment, my emotional and mental energy goes downhill. So I may have a series of questions or thoughts I can go back to that bring me back to what I was working on, and may even help me go further than before.
- I have another distraction ready to go. Sounds counterintuitive, and I apologize to the more introverted judging types out there, but it helps. I know the aforementioned will tend to shut down or find a different place to work, but for my type the surroundings are part of the reason I chose to work here. So I have to have other things in place to help. Today it was the football game on the TV. I heard the door, I smelled the cigarette smoke, I got tense, so I rolled my chair back to watch the game for 30 seconds. That is all it took.
- I walk away. Especially if the issue is people centred and I have no control of what they decide to do. I walk to a different room, take an emotional stroll in my mind, and wait till I am ready to return. Maybe I can work on something else in the meantime or talk to someone else, and treat what I was doing as a bookmarked distraction from what I am currently doing.
Sometimes learning to ignore can help in the moment, but that is not always the best remedy for everyone all the time. Find what works for you before you burn out in the moment!
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