UNWRAPPED: 5 Steps to Overcome Any Distraction

Personal Development, Unwrapped-Series
Noise

It is a difficult situation to write an article, when you are lacking some hours of sleep, have some artisans constantly drilling in your house and no chance to escape, since you need to be there. However that is my reality today.

While I agree that these are less than preferable circumstances for blogging, focusing and concentrating at all, it is also a great chance to practice some things.

Now I know that I have these disturbing noises for the next hours, and I could put all my writing down for the day, but what if I could use this as a catalyst for some new insights.

The Ideal Isn’t Always Possible, Right?

A good rule for focusing your attention on any subject you like would be to remove as many distractions as possible. However what if you couldn’t do that (as in my case the drilling needs to be done today)? Would you give up focusing?

No. This is a chance to understand the power of distractions, but first let’s get clear what distraction means.

What Is a Distraction?

Again, I look up the wonderful Online Etymology Dictionary

distract
mid-14c., “to draw asunder or apart” (literal and figurative), from L. distractus, pp. of distrahere “draw in different directions,” from dis- “away” + trahere “to draw” (see tract (1)). Sense of “to throw into a state of mind in which one knows not how to act” is from 1580s.

So being distracted means, being drawn in different directions and being in a state of mind, in which one knows not how to act.

This means you don’t know how to act, as long as your mind is drawn into different directions.

In my example that would be me wanting to focus my mind on the text and my mind focusing at the same time on the noise of the drilling, the possible anger coming up and whatever memories that triggers.

Are You a Victim or a Helmsman?

The key here is to understand that although it is said, that you are being drawn to these things, it is not as passive as it sounds. What do I mean? “Being drawn to” is a statement of passivity. So then you are a victim to the distracting forces, right? And the only thing you can do, to not become a victim to those external influences is to remove them.

Well, that is one way to do it, but is it the only way? Only if you believe in the paradigm of your mind being drawn to those distractions and not having the power of choice here.

Now here is the vital key to get into control of your minds focus …

It is not the external distraction that is drawing your minds focus – it is your mind allowing your focus being drawn to them.

Please read that statement several times.

With every distraction you make a decision of reaction. While your first reaction might be instinctive (your subconscious checking out whether survival is threatened), your continued reaction is a conscious decision. Whatever you associate with that thing that you’ve labeled as “distraction” could also be changed here.

Note the difference – you are no longer a victim to distractions, you are the helmsman for your minds focus. Can you feel a difference in the power that these 2 pictures make in your body?

5 Steps to Overcome Any Distraction

Okay – so let’s systemize this for a practical application (as usual here on UYM – Unwrap Your Mind)

  1. Note what is disturbing you
  2. Can you remove it now? How much energy would it take to remove it? If it is easy to remove it, then do so, if it takes up lots of energy maybe don’t bother about it
  3. Why is this thing bothering you? Become clear, while you are distracted or bothered by it. Maybe you should also note what it reminds you of.
  4. Make a commitment to yourself to be a helmsman of focus. Say “I won’t allow this to interfere with my focus for now. It will be there, but I won’t allow my focus to be distracted by it. I am the helmsman of my minds focus. And from now on, this external thing would even increase my level of focus through it’s existence”. For example, after a while I found that the drilling sound became like a rhythm that I used for increasing my focus and that I incorporated in my writing rhythm.
  5. Smile and work. Then go on doing what you are about to do, and whenever you hear or see that external thing (former distraction) smile and say “Thank you for helping me increase my focus”. This is very important because as long as you keep up rejecting or fighting it, it will keep its power over you.

Remember you are the helmsman – so steer your mind in the right direction now.

For a more indepth discussion of how to focus, read my article Focus or how to be strong, sexy and smart in 60 seconds

13 comments… add one
  • Hey Patrick,

    Sounds like we have the same challenge today. I just turned off my mobile phone because it kept ringing every 5 minutes. I want to get some hardcore writing done today. 🙂

    Eduard

    .-= ´s last blog ..Forget achieving life balance and try this instead =-.

    • Patrick

      Eduard, okay then it’s official. Today is distraction day. And we have here 2 ways of dealing – switching off (well I can’t do that with the drilling) or using it as a catalyst. Do whatever is necessary.

  • I have always been distractable. If I had been a student today I am sure I would have been diagnosed with an attention deficit. I have found that I can focus for hours on things I love and I have recently have found ways to stay focused on things that I dont like as well.
    I have found that if I get distracted I can get back to the task if I promise myself that I can do the thought that distracted me after I am done.
    I also know how it feels to be focused so I visualize being in that state of mind.

    • Patrick

      Julia, that is another great way to change your perception. I have already wrote about this in my article Focus – or how to be strong, sexy and smart in 60 seconds. If you could turn whatever you want to do into something you enjoy, love or are fascinated about, distractions and procrastination wouldn’t bother you any longer.

  • Hi Patrick

    I think, I’m going to do something funny with this article. “Double-translate it”. I mean, I’m going to translate it into Spanish, but adapted for young people. I remember that, when I taught, this was a major cause for concern among students.

    • Patrick

      Miguel, that is a fantastic idea. This could indeed be really helpful for students. Please send me the link and I will post it here under “Translations” again. Thank you for your service. Greatly appreciated.

  • Patrick, you are absolutely right. I keep creating distractions as I am not really 100% comitted to the task at hand.

    So I am closing my browser after this comment and getting on with some serious writing:-)

    .-= ´s last blog ..Take Off Your Superman Cape and Become Human Again! =-.

    • Patrick

      Arvind, that’s a great start, although I want you to come back for my next article 🙂

  • Its interesting how this definition of distractions can be applied to not just tasks and goals, but to our own emotional well-being.

    .-= ´s last blog ..Why Its Time to Let Go of Your Expectations =-.

    • Patrick

      Justin, you are so right. Since life isn’t all about tasks and goals, we need to focus on our own growth and our own feelings just as well. And very often we aren’t able to listen to our own internal voice of wisdom, because there is so much noise from the outside world coming from demands, etc. at us.

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