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My most recent single release - "My True North" - is now available on Bandcamp. Open my profile and click on "audio clip".

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Distracted, Distracting, Distractor

Distractions come in a few varieties don't they? Which variety is most likely to trigger you? And what technique works most effectively when you're trying to get past those distractions?

My wife and I frequently represent opposing sides of this human dilemma. When she is distracted by stuff needing attention around our home, she's more likely than I to attack it even if it means something she'd prefer doing gets short shrift. When I'm distracted by a home task - like a lawn needing to be mowed - my default is to pick up and leave. I'm not procrastinating, exactly (I know I'll get to it) but those private distractions - even when that distinction is fuzzy or infuriating to my wife - are relatively easy for me to ignore or escape.

On the other side, what I call public distractions are less problematic for my wife than for me. Loud conversations, omnipresent TV screens, chatty fellow travelers all trigger me disproportionately. My wife is usually able to tune these out and focus on whatever she's up to, whether alone or with others. My over-reaction to public distractions sometimes disrupts an otherwise enjoyable interaction with her.

And then there are all the modern distractions blurring my private/public distinction. For example, we've all been publicly assaulted by cell phone conversations that should have remained private. And how about those damn bloggers who distract us with their private musings using a public forum?


  1. OK, so summertime presents me with the challenge of getting to things since my five children are now home with me and the foster baby. This post on distraction could not have come at a more opportune time for me to bring an important perspective back into my busy life. For me, it's about defining "distraction". For example, I have been wanting to respond to this post for a week. Could I have done it immediately? Probably, yes. However, if I did not wait until a moment when my children were otherwise occupied as they are now, I would have undoubtedly been frustrated by the distractions of their demands. But what really is the distraction in that case? Is it the children or my need to write? That depends.

    About nine years ago, when I had only three children, all under the age of four, I realized how "distracted" they made me feel whenever I was on the internet answering e-mails. I fought this for a while, thinking that I just needed to find the right time. Then I realized, it wasn't the children who needed to stop distracting, it was the e-mails! I got rid of the internet and found peace in the moment of being the mother of young children.

    I've since learned to find ways to have both children and the internet without distraction, but it didn't come without creativity. And there are still times when I feel annoyed because I want to write but it seems there is a revolving door attached to my desk area through which, one child after another enters with a new desire for my attention. At these times, I step back and assess where my attention really needs to be at that particular time. When the writing wins out, I know it is an opportunity for my children to learn patience and respect for the needs of others.

    As for the common distractions of noise and such, my mind tends to be able to focus away from those distractions. Though I recall years ago when I shared a prayer hour with a woman who would whip out her cellophane wrapped candy at the start of each hour, and continually make noise with the hard candy in her mouth. When one piece would finish, she'd begin unwrapping the next. The noise went right to my core. This was about twenty years ago, but the feeling of frustration over this intrusion to my prayer time remains powerful.

    And that, for me, is the definition that helps me to step back and deal. When distraction becomes an intrusion, it is has taken on a new identity, one that must be rectified in one way or another.

    As for the bloggers :) Distractions made from choices we make are not distractions at all! But the pleasant interruptions that bless our lives! Thanks for the post! I'm going to catch up with a few others as time, and distractions, allow. d.

    1. d; Two responses to your comprehensive comment:
      1.) The distinction you make between a "distraction" and an "intrusion" is a useful one for me - thanks for that.
      2.) I missed seeing your comments over the last week or so but given what you already so ably juggle, I'm humbled you make the time to read (and think about) what I write. An even bigger thanks for that.