Who else has been distracted while trying to accomplish a task? Anyone? Have you ever been working toward a goal and somehow found yourself derailed from your path? What about writing a paper or having a conversation and mid-thought *squirrel!*
I seriously hope I am not alone in this. Even taking time to write for the adoring DAHLC blog post readers, I am faced with a variety of distractions: Colleagues asking questions; pager beeping; temptation to check email or social media; bathroom break; phone call; looking through the DAHLC website and getting sidetracked and suddenly having 13 tabs open at the top of my browser. . .EEK!
If you are at all like me, maybe once in a while a distraction is welcome and possibly even beneficial – embrace those occurrences. They can be a serendipitous blessing. However, often the bombardment of sensory input around us can be over-stimulating to our senses and lead to lower quality, unsuccessful, or unfinished outcomes. I think about the abundance of digital technology and social media in ‘first world’ societies and how dependent we have become on the use of phones, apps, computers, televisions, Facebook, Twitter. . . and how these impact our quality of work, communication, and relationships.
Whether a distraction lasts a few seconds during a meditation practice or lasts several weeks or months during a particularly busy work season, first recognize the distraction occurred. This is a practice of mindfulness or awareness. Then, notice what precipitated the distraction. Consider what makes the distraction enticing and, however brief, successful. Finally, take action toward eliminating the distraction by tuning your focus toward what is most important to you in the present moment.
Sit still or get up and move around. Maybe step outside for a breath of fresh air or change your work environment. More ideas include write down your top priorities [for today] or delete/close distracting apps on your phone or device.
Find out what works best for you. Maybe take ideas from other people – you may find what works for them will work for you, too. Nonetheless, I encourage you to practice mindfulness and awareness in a way which practices are most suited for you and, of course, cause no harm or distraction to anyone else! Another resource may be Zen Habits blogger Leo Babauta who shares techniques he implements when faced with what he dubs a ‘distraction habit’.
According to Merriam-Webster.com, the definition of a habit: a usual way of behaving; something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way.
Which habits do you want to embody?
Take action - and good luck!