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May 30, 2013 / Dale Melchin

Dealing with Distraction

We all have lives that are full of distraction.  Some of them are necessary to attend to, others that aren’t  In my apartment I have two adorable cats.  I love them both dearly, but they are huge distraction.  Not one that I get caught up in.  They are especially when I am engaging in a creative activity, or the unwanted kind of distraction.  I have found it best to corral them in another room with the litter box present and their food and water on the other side so I can get my creative work done.  The time invested catching them pays huge dividends in terms of focus, silence, and ability to work.
However, not all distractions are created equal, some are wanted and even compelling.  In this post I will identify 3 primary distractions and show you how to effectively counteract them.
  1. The phone and other devices.  This is becoming more and more of a problem as time progresses.  Smartphones are a great resource both for work and play.  Sometimes though the phone because the end rather than the means.  Just the other day I mislaid my smartphone before going into my day job.  I was frustrated the entire day because I couldn’t do stuff that I was normally capable of doing that I do with that phone.  Granted, mostly communication and content consumption, but it was still annoying.  When you are engaged in a creative endeavor the best thing to do is to put the phone away.  Generally, the messages can wait.  What you are presently doing is most important, not what other people are wanting to involve you with.
  2. The computer.  I know this goes not the other devices category, but I digress.  The computer is a distraction because of the Internet and social media.  While it is necessary for research and content development.  The best tactic I have found to counteract this is to not have an open window to Facebook, pull up youtube, put on epic music and work.
  3. People.  Family and friends can be distractions as well.  Sometimes they are innocuous ones.  Sometimes they are not and they can be even destructive to your goals, especially if they don’t get it. The best countermeasure to this to allocate your creative times to when you are alone.  If that is not possible confine yourself to an office and set up boundaries and negotiate times to spend with those folks.  Now, obviously, if they are destructive to you or your goals the best time to schedule them is the 5th Tuesday of never and leave it at that.  There is always room to negotiate.
  4. The environment.  If it is your home environment that is a distraction it is best to invest them time to make that area around your desk a place conducive to creativity, or speaking more generally, conducive to your work.
The ultimate goal is to be intentional in managing the distractions and determine the level of treatment required for each one.

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