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.


Self Leadership – Avoiding the Frustrations of the Incompletes

What is incompleteWhy self leadership might matter…

We all put up with stuff and sometimes we put up with not completing.  It’s part of human nature.  We all do it.

Our physical world – it sure can mirror back to us – a story of what is going on inside us.

When you have something incomplete – it calls out to you &  it helps remind you of what you are responsible for – and where you have fallen short in that responsibility in the completing process.

When you collect incompletes – you are repeatedly ignoring a call to be present with something.   It could be the niggly, nagging, grating call-to-action you put aside or ignored or it could be the energy of the feeling of something you would prefer not to feel.

 The Benefits of completing:

  • The obvious one – You get it done
  • You learn to focus & control your own behaviour – somewhere along the line.
  • You get to give yourself an energetic lift
  • It increases your attractiveness – people are drawn to completers.
  • You’ve learned how to create ‘containers’ and boundaries and definitions of what is success in your completions
  • You’ll have time to look at other opportunities
  • You’ll have created some extra space and freedom. Space that you can do something inspiring in

The pain of the incompletes:

How to raise your capacity to move beyond frustration to completion:

  • Expand your capacity and responsibility for setting and honouring and realigning boundaries as needed
  • Expand your capacity to be with the discomfort of the feelings related to the pressure
  • Make requests of others
  • Get crystal clear of the task, project and outcome.  Understand the details, and the process that will move you from starting to done
  • See the challenge/opportunity as smaller than YOU.  (A simple – yet powerful distinction)
  • Learn how to move past having frustration as a needed friend to help you get something done – instead be responsible to inspire yourself with inspiration and clarity
  • Become more self responsible by becoming more sensitive to what you best need to complete things;  it may be more energy, improved time efficiency or improved resources
  • Have some people support lined up to aid you.  It’s a lot easier/faster to complete with others assisting you
  • Set boundaries to protect your time and energy – so you can best focus on completing
  • Raise up your standards.  When you run in the top percentile of effectiveness – you rise above a lot of unnecessary crap
  • Learn quickly from failing
  • Take on an abundance perspective – as you build reserves in energy and resources – you have more capacity to invest in completing
  • Start simply – identify 10-25 incompletes as a practical place to begin. Make a plan to move to completion now
  • Under promise to others – and then deliver beyond their expectations – and meet your own.  This lifts a little unnecessary pressure.
  • Be responsible to give yourself enough time – and work your calendar and tasks to meet your completion deadlines
  • link your opportunity to your values –  they will inspire you and pull you forward. Be self inspiring and inspiring.
  • Learn from your frustrations when they come up – get to what is behind the frustration – it’s probably important! Treat it like something to discover
  • If it suits you – use technology to increase your effectiveness.  There are many,many different types of productivity software that will give you prompts and reminders to help you move towards completion.

Any of these items, you could put into your personal leadership development plan.  Start simply by beginning with 1 or 2 strategies to raise your capacity to increase your ability to complete – and then expand from there.

What are some of the support systems/structures which will help you raise your capacity to complete without frustration?