Distraction – the good, the bad and the necessary

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Distraction

I’ve been thinking about the power of distraction a lot lately – not the everyday type of distraction (the ‘ I need to distract myself in case I eat that cake’ type of distraction) – I mean the type of distraction that takes you off course for a long while.   At the moment I’m feeling distracted because work has been slow and I’ve been trying to fill my time – I’ve fallen into the trap of pure distraction, flitting from one thing to another (usually email and social media) in a bid to be and feel busy.  I’ve started to see that this type of distraction could easily just be another term for procrastination, it’s pretty much the same only instead of doing nothing I’m doing lots of something that leads to nothing.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that distraction is really really tiring, It’s like being on edge all the time. The constant flitting from one thing to another means that I find it hard to concentrate for any length of time on anything, I’m tired, my brain is tired, it’s a flitting brain that needs to stop.

However there is another side of this longer term distraction – where it works to keep us safe. I’ve had a couple of counselling clients recently who have been very distracted – both facing a bereavement and yet both finding so many other things to do and talk about – rather than thinking or talking about the deeper stuff.  At first I found this frustrating, like we weren’t getting anywhere, but of course this is a core part of their coping, of surviving and physically being able to function. This has become a valuable and necessary use of distraction.

There is a time where distraction stops working, where the bigger picture takes over and we need to face up to what is and isn’t working anymore – the rock bottom of distraction.  I don’t know how or when this happens – whether it’s self realisation or life just gets better again.  The only thing I do know is that recognising the signs of long term distraction and asking why this is happening – is a very good question and a very difficult one to answer.

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Distractions – procrastination or normal life?

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Orty pier

I was reading an article about the danger of distractions and how, if you get distracted from a task, it can take an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.  This was an article about working productively, so more about the everyday work distractions (email/colleagues/facebook etc).  But what if you find yourself distracted away from normal life in general, for more than a few minutes or hours or days.  Let’s say hypothetically that you were all set to head toward some goal or other and then you find that you have been distracted by some unknown force and pulled off course for around a year with no sign of said goals being started, let alone achieved.  What on earth do you do then?  And what does this mean?

This is what I’m pondering at the moment. In a month I’ll be 51 – it seems I was only worrying about 50 a few days ago. Time is ticking away and I don’t feel any closer to being more productive, making a difference to the world, finding my purpose or in fact channelling my time toward any other worthy life enhancing groundbreaking direction.

When I hit 50 I was going to be someone, but it seems I’ve been a bit slow off the mark. Is my distraction a sign that I’ve been lazy, have lost my mojo, picked the wrong goals or just been derailed by life events?  Or should I give up worrying, drop the life enhancement theme and just get on with normal life?  I really need to find out so I’ve bought some more books – ‘What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life’ and ‘Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life’ – hopefully I’ll have read them before I’m 52.