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.


Using Peace as Guide to Your Own Self Leadership


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Let’s define PEACE as a state of calm personal presence where you are not caught up in any story of the past or worry of the future;  where you can easily maintain your personal emotional poise.

Peace can be a guiding energy in your personal leadership if you allow it.  Peace has an understanding that you are at personal ease with your choices and that you are flexible, open and responsive.   

Bottom line: It’s much easier to lead yourself with grace and ease when are in a peaceful state.


“Be at peace to be great at your personal leadership and be a great personal leader to also have inward peace.

Take a moment now and think about the last time you didn’t feel peaceful.  Can you see how, more than likely, you were frustrated, anxious or fearful in some small way?  

When you get caught up in non-peaceful energies, sometimes it can often be because of one of these 4 scenarios:

  1.    You are off balance
  2.     You are overly referencing the past – and applying interpretations, and living into those
  3.     You are caught in a limited perspective – and are excluding other possible perspectives
  4.     You are locked into an expectation and are reacting to that expectation

The above 4 things can be sources of struggle or frustration. 

Personal Leadership PeaceHere is how to gently turn your struggles into a greater sense of peace:

Pursue emotional mastery.  When you can be in a place of poise with your emotions, you leave yourself free to succeed.  When you have grace with your emotional range, you can freely express yourself without the fear of being overwhelmed by your feelings. 

If you shake when you are angry, if you cry to the point of interrupting your words, if you stay in a bad mood for more than a few moments, if you get stuck and stay there, or if you have things in your life you don’t want – these can be signs that your level of emotional mastery could use an upgrade.

Be diligent about looking for and being open to alternate perspectives.    Even things like being overly identified with your roles, life experience, moments of pride or failure can take you out of having an expansive perspective.  It can be so easy to limit who you are, just by saying, “I am (blank)”— for what happens in that experience is that you leave out all the other great things you are.  

Here are a few quick tips for understanding if you have embraced enough perspectives to put yourself in a place of flexibility and openness in your personal leadership:

  •         If you have 1 choice of perspective, without a doubt, you are in a limited perspective for you have blocked out any other possibility.  This is the “my-way-or-the-highway” stance.
  •         If you have 2 choices, you are caught in a dilemma.  An either/or choice is a set up for conflict and dis-ease.  It asks you to be constantly judging and comparing, which can take you away from peace and towards conflict.
  •         If you have at least 3 choices, you are in a place to be more at ease, not only because there are more options – it is also a gateway to the ultimate in flexibility where you can easily create perspectives and use your personal presence to sense the best choice for yourself.

Be judgment sensitive.

Judging, comparing, or criticizing something is a great inclusion as an element in a creative process – it is not a great thing, however, when it becomes a constant way of being.

Here is the biggest problem with the act of judging. It takes you out of connection because, in order to for you to judge something, you need to consciously disassociate yourself from it. (So you can see it clearly).

The problems come in, however, when you see yourself as ‘there – out there’, and you forget that you are also part of what you are judging.  In short, you are blocking the perspective of ‘wholeness’. 

You don’t have to look very far to see this in action.  Just listen for someone judging another.   Then, notice if part of the energy of what they are judging is someone alive within themselves. Often it is.

Have intentions instead of expectations.

Expectation is the mother of all disappointments. Expectations often bring suffering because we are not rewarded as we expect.

It is an illusory world where we bring into the present moment that which we have anchored and become identified with.  We expect things being a certain way including our place in that scenario. It’s illusory because it is made up. It is imagined.

In a dramatic sense, expectations are your attempt of trying to control the universe.   At first glance at that statement, you may say nay, but if you think about it long enough – you can sense the energy within you when you would like something to turn out a certain way.