How To Become Best Friends With The Demon Called Distraction

Hopeless, His heart
image: dancoachcreative

Distraction is the arch enemy of focus. And without focus, you won’t ever get anything worthwhile done. It’s a simple equation.

More than ever before in human history we’re being bombarded with dozens, hundreds, thousands of potential sources of distraction every day. Every hour. Every second.

It’s become almost impossible to escape this hyper connectedness we’re all drawn to and entangled in.

It’s like the most beautiful diamante spiderweb glistening seductively in the morning sunlight, but it’s as harmful and addictive as nicotine. It’s our creativity that is suffering.

We’re desperate to stay connected because we’re so afraid of missing out. Plus on some level these myriad connections and pulls on our attention help us feel that we’re needed, important, valuable.

But get lost in this web of distractions and a day can fly by without doing all those things you’d hoped to. In fact, a day can fly by without getting much of anything done.

So why is this article about becoming best friends with distraction, if it’s such an unwanted presence and hindrance in our lives?

Because there’s a different kind of distraction that is far more healthy for our creativity. And it’s one we often forget, as we’ve lost touch with how creative we are, and can be.

You know those kind of thoughts and worries that go round and round in your head and sometimes keep you up at night?

The ones that start out quite small, but by the time they’ve cycled round and round and you’ve intimately examined and expanded them a few hundred times, they seem like the only thing that matter in the world?

They are just the kind of thing that it’s great to be distracted from.

But not with the type of distraction we’re all so often drawn into, the type we talked about above.

What we’re talking about here is the distraction of being completely lost in creating.

Remember those times where you’ve been so immersed in creating something you completely forgot the time, where you were, even who you were? Those times where your attention and energy and creativity is completely and utterly channeled in one direction?

These are the kind of distractions we want to make friends with.

These are the kind of distractions that save us from those everyday concerns, worries and dilemmas that we spend far too long dwelling on.

So how do we make friends with this kind of distraction?

In short, practice.

You could try to set aside a session of few hours over the next week or so and use it to completely immerse yourself in creating. But if you haven’t created much for some time, it’s likely this will just make you panic, procrastinate, get nothing done and feel even worse because you had such high hopes for this time devoted purely to creating.

Far better is to (re)train yourself to be able to get lost in creating virtually instantaneously.

The best way to do this is to create a little each day.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that not more than a couple of posts go by without me banging on about the value of creating a little each day.

That’s not going to change any time soon because it works. And I want to teach you and show you and introduce to you stuff that works, that will help you be more creative.

I just finished a hundred consecutive days of yoga. No I didn’t do yoga non-stop for a hundred days. I didn’t even do any marathon yoga sessions that lasted hours on end.

I just did, and continue to do, yoga every day for a minimum of 20 minutes.

There are 72 blocks of 20 mins in a whole day. Using just one of these to do yoga, or to write, or to paint, or to take pictures, or whatever other creative activity you want to do more of, is a tiny drop in the day’s ocean.

You still have 71 blocks of 20 minutes left to do everything else. Seventy one! Every day!

The more you do this – the longer your daily streak – the stronger you become, the more creative you become.

And the easier it becomes to slip into those blissful sessions of creating that feel as wonderful as slipping into a hot deep bubble bath at the end of a day outside wandering in the winter cold.

Make friends with the beautiful distraction of creating by starting today.

20 minutes is all you need, do it every day. You’ll be amazed at your increase in focus and creativity, and most importantly, in how much you enjoy it all.


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8 thoughts on “How To Become Best Friends With The Demon Called Distraction”

  1. Hi Dan,
    Awesome timing- I live in Australia, where we’ve just lost 8 lives and several TOWNS due to huge flooding, unfortunately with worse predicted to come today.
    Although I’m 2 states away, it’s been raining solidly here too, so I’ve been pretty distracted this morning by thoughts of flooding, rains and the 1000s of Queenslanders who have lost everything. (Sorry – it’s a somber comment.)
    Your post has reminded me to get distracted in a creative way today. Perhaps some hearty singing on my way to work, a bit of inspired writing when I come home tonight. If I find the (bad) distractions become too much at work, I might take some quickie creative breaks too! Thanks for the inspiration πŸ™‚


  2. Hi Juliet, thanks for your comments.

    It’s difficult to see such traumatic events and not feel completely helpless.

    But we do each have the ability and creativity within us to do extraordinary work, and I believe we have a certain duty to pursue that too.

    One person’s greatest creative work might be paintings, another person’s might be photography. Another’s might be founding and running charities that support flood disaster victims and another’s might be designing emergency temporary shelters for the victims of similar disasters.

    It’s important to keep using our creativity for our own good and for those around us I think.


  3. Dan,
    I live in Western Masssachusetts,USA where we are currently having a blizzard. All the animals on the farm (I have sheep, horses, dogs, cats and assorted wild creatures looking for refuge) are tucked up in the barn or the house.
    You really nailed it today, Dan. Wow! I have many distractions vying for my attention, as we all do. It’s a little tougher for me sometimes, because I use a wheelchair. Thanks for the great tips!


  4. Wow.
    Found this on Twitter and it’s right in line with what I just wrote about how I’m working on beating procrastination.

    Thanks for reinforcing what I’m doing!


    1. Hi Deanne, great to hear we’re on the same page. Good luck in continuing to beat procrastination, it can be done. πŸ™‚


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