Distraction Demystified – Interrupting Our Flow


Distractions Interrupt Our Flow

Distractions Interrupt. When we are in flow, we are natural, open and responsive.

When we are driven to accomplish, we are just the opposite.

We can be great at “doing”, and miss the elements of being that put us in a place of flow. We can also be great at “being” and still not be effective in “doing”.

“Doing” matters because while being masterful personal leadership has a lot to do with being; it’s equally about doing.  You want to be effective in what you do too.

There is a catch.  There are reasons why people don’t do effectively and being distracted one of them.

You might welcome distraction or be irked by it.  Your reaction may depend on whether your are in a perspective of ‘doing’ or ‘being’.

 Someone who is driven to accomplish – may be upset by a distraction.  Someone who is just being – may be happily pulled along in time by the distraction after lovely distraction.

Let me demystify a few things about distraction:

  • Distractions can be self-sabotage that come from outside of our awareness.
  • Getting caught in the grip of a distraction can be a result of reduced awareness or focus.
  • You can be distracted as a way to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
  • It can also be a conscious choice as an attempt to gain pleasure from something that has a secondary gain.

Shiny objects cause distractions too.  It’s human nature to look for the good in things or products. It’s problematic when searching for the good, gets in the way of you doing your great work.

The insidious nature of distraction calls us to choose consciously to be distraction-free.  It will sometimes take a firm resolve to overcome the vacuum-like pull of the distraction.

A recent study published in Current Biology suggests that subtle distractions impede our progress towards our goals in a great way. In this study with 95 volunteers, researchers found that subtle distractors change what we are doing more than obvious ones with respect to goal-oriented behaviour.

Counterintuitively, they discovered the disruptions on attention and goal oriented actions were greater with slight distractions.  Larger distractions such as a ringing phone caused fewer distractions than the subtle distractions such as something blinking on our computer screen.

What does this mean?

We underestimate the impact of subtle distractions on our day.    Just have an atrocious day and notice if you search out a distraction of some sort.

We all know about the typical distractions of email checking, of endless meetings and the time it takes to deliver on our responsibilities and commitments. But how much time do we spend thinking about more subtle distractions that we pick up with our senses? (The flutter of a light bulb, a text, or the small, subtle noises in our offices)

Does it matter that something is preventing us from giving our full attention to something else?

I think so.

I believe when we get caught up in distractions it agitates and ruffles our mind-body state.  When we are agitated, it is challenging to remain open and flexible. That then in impedes our ability to be in the flow.  I believe that when we begin with calmness, and then work from there we can be at our most present, productive and engaged.

Even what we call multitasking takes away from the co-creative nature of being 100% percent present with what we’re doing.  It’s distraction as a practice.  Although, for most people, they would probably choose to be less distracted.

ways to avoid distraction

7 Ways to move beyond distraction and get back into the flow:

1.  Know what you want in specific terms and create an inspiring reminder.

The clearer you are about what it is you want versus what it is you don’t want, the more aligned you will be with your intentions. When you can paint a bright and clear picture of what it is you want, and you continually remind yourself of that high purpose, the quicker you can get back on the path if you are distracted.

A qualifying kicker question you can ask, “Is it (this distracting activity) bringing me closer to what I want or away from what I want?” Often the distractions will be things that take you further away from your goal.

2. Consciously take a holiday from distractions.

One of the best ways to change a pattern is to denounce it. Adopt a firm stance against distractions before they happen.  Having a plan in place before distractions attempt to creep, and it won’t just slide by you. You’ve put yourself in a place of choice of not following the pattern.

3. Schedule high-focus time in your calendar. 

It’s a lot easier to guard yourself against t distractions if you limit the time that you need to be on guard. By giving yourself permission to work without distraction for a few hours you build the muscle to enjoy working distraction-free. Over time, you can stretch that out to longer and longer durations.

Try a 50-20-50 working pattern.  Work for 50minutes, switch up to an alternate restorative focus for 20 and then go back to another 50minute high focus session. Setting a rule in advance about no distractions is going to give you at minimum 2 hours of highly productive and efficient time.

4.Be as present as you can.

When we are outside of the present moments often were doing things like worrying about the future or replaying the past. The past invites more stories of the past, and the future, it invites concern and anxiousness.

You have you ever just sat down to watch TV because you wanted to unplug from the stresses of the day? Take a moment to think about if you’re attempting to distract yourself from what is.

5.Be mindful of your inner self-talk.

Our internal self-talk is one of those less obvious places where we allow ourselves to be distracted. The talk, it’s there all the time, so it’s less likely to jump out at us as a distraction. But things like judging or criticizing others (or yourself), comparing you to others, ruminating about the future, having unrealistic expectations – all distract us.

Learning to how to calm your mind and not getting caught up in the meaning of these kinds of thoughts is the best way to lessen these types of distractions.

6.Bring awareness to your feelings and emotions.

Fear and the emotions relating to fear our some of the biggest distractors there are.  Underneath the fear there is an energy in our body, and when we resist all there is to feel there we actively separate ourselves from being present to all that pure focus has to offer.

If you find that you consciously want to do more of the distracting behaviour, it may even be some emotional energy is distracting you.  Do a little self-check-in by asking yourself, “Am I experiencing emotional pain?”.

Staying with your emotions rather than heading off towards a distraction is what is required.

You may recognize things like:

  • desiring to perfect things
  • desiring to perfect situations
  • avoiding tasks or delaying
  • engaging in addictive behaviour

If you notice any of those things, stop and bring yourself present to your emotions, for those are distractors from the momentum of flowing along the path from A to B.

7.Engage your Courage.

One of the ways we can get caught up in distractions is that we are consciously or unconsciously avoiding something. We might be avoiding a social situation, or a feeling, or a negative imagining of the future. When were able to engage our courage and take forward momentum even in the face of fears or limiting beliefs it keeps us moving forward and in the flow.

All seven of the above ideas relate directly to being more present with yourself in mind body and spirit.  If your desire is to be more focused and less distracted, the most direct route is to master your connection with your personal presence as part of a personal leadership development plan.

When we are in full presence, we are in the flow, and we can better enjoy the ease, grace and enjoyable experience of life and make the best use of our time rather than time using us.


4 Clearing Techniques to Get Past Stuck

clearing techniques
One key activity in undertaking a path of personal leadership is the courageous one of consistently breaking through perceived barriers.

Success comes easier when you take on a belief, a mindset and practice that stands in the perspective that stuckness is unnecessary and temporary as long as you handle not sitting still for it.

Barriers to our success can manifest in many forms depending on your perspective:  

  • Fear
  • self-talk or toxic thinking
  • Confusion
  • Isolation
  • Overwhelm
  • Resistance
  • Restriction
  • Financial
  • Lack of (name it) money, energy, resources, time
  • Barriers to Success

Barriers, if you let them, can stop you in your tracks.  It often takes small daily acts of courage to move through places where you feel stuck.   It takes a willingness to open yourself up to options and possibilities that will allow you to leapfrog these barbed barriers.  Now, while most of the clearing techniques are dramatically easier when working with an expert coach.

Here are 4 simple clearing techniques that are meant to aid in breaking down barriers:

Mind Clearing:  Got a barrier rooted in how you are thinking? It might be time to do some mind-clearing.  These would be things like having too many choices with equal weight.  Or you are feeling confused? Or unable to hold all the things that need to be done without feeling a sense of overwhelm?

Here is a simple idea…Blank Paper ExerciseThe blank paper clearing technique:  Take a blank piece of 8.5″ x 11″ paper, and with different coloured pens (use the colour where you choose) follow these directions:

  1.  Draw a small circle in the  middle of the page.  In the small circle – write what is you are confused or overwhelmed about – and do it in 2 words or less.  (This is your anchor thought)
  2.  Next draw a small circle – and in that circle write down 1 singular thought, question, or to do.   ( It’s important to only put 1 thought inside.  For example – go to the store and buy buns.. (that’s two thoughts)  Go to the store – is one , and buy buns is another.)

Continue to draw a circles one at a time, and then write the thought in each circle, one at a time – until you run out of thoughts.  (Try not let the circle edges touch)  You assist yourself a little for speed by setting a timer for 7 or 8 Minutes.

  1. At the end of your timer, or sooner if you feel complete – put down your pen and look at what you have done for 1 minute.
  2. Then turn over the piece of paper – so you are looking at the white page – with nothing on it. Look at the blank piece of paper for approx. 1 minute
  3. Take the piece of paper while still looking at the blank side – crunch it up into a ball – and physically throw it in the recycling bin.  It may seem a little shocking to through it away – You will be surprised though at the new awareness that after 10 minute exercise, you don’t really need it anymore.

Now think of your issue that you wrote in the center of the page of the exercise.  How do you feel about it now?   Where’s the confusion or overwhelm now?            Most people feel a greater sense of certainty after doing this exercise.Take this time of clarity to do a little planning of your next steps and determining what resources you will need to move forward.

Chemistry clearing
When you have a chemistry barrier – You might notice you have a language or communication barrier in a relationship.  Your relationship needs some TLC.  Clearing relationship barriers – just means to bring some internal and external focus:

  1. Internally – what do you need to forgive, release or allow?
  2. Externally  – what truth do you need to tell or expression do you have to make?

There are many communication techniques for clearing in relationships. Most good ones ask you to make distinctions between what you see (the truth) and what you make up  (the interpretation).  Truth often has many perspectives.  Interpretation isn’t based on reality.     You will notice that trying to control the outcome to clear a relationship barrier – may just keep you stuck.  Instead, you could try an “allowing” perspective with the intention of creating a connection – you may find that helps you to create some movement.

Body and energy clearing
When you have a body barrier to success  – it might be because your container for your capacity to feel an emotion is smaller than the energy of the feeling.  The result – is a feeling of fear, overwhelm or resistance.

To clear the energy – without forcing…feel into the energy of the feeling and continue to do this – until the feeling dissipates completely.

Spirit Clearing
When you have a barrier on the level of spirit – if not related to trust, it can sometimes be related to what meaning you have attached to your outcome.  Is it inspiring enough to pull you towards it?  Is It aligned with your values? And is the meaning you attribute to it worthwhile?

A simple exercise to clear energy on this level is to go for a walk in nature and think about the big WHY when you desire to do something and keep asking that question to each subsequent answer.  Eventually, after 5 or 6 layers deep – you will discover the deeper meaningful outcome you want.You might just surprise yourself as to what comes to you.   Hold that meaningful outcome up to some light – and see – if now you feel compelled to move forward.It is what meaning making – and those parts of ourself that we bring to the world – that raises your WHY up to a spiritual level.Allow your meaning-making to permeate everything you do.