Distraction

Distracted from distraction by distraction.
— T.S. Eliot

 

First of all, as I sit down to write this, let’s note of how many tabs I have open in my browser...13 (which is actually probably less than normal, honestly). 13+ tabs and don’t even get me started on how many apps I have open on my phone. Gee, I wonder why I am distracted...

Over the last 2 weeks, I have run the gamut of distraction. I had a long list of things I wanted to work on for my 365 project including writing posts, brainstorming content ideas, working on my website, and a few other random things - and exactly none of that happened. As I looked back on why I wasn’t making any progress I noticed a few trends around my distraction tendencies.

Curiousity killed my productivity.

I am a naturally curious person. I like to know how things work and why things are the way they are, but this can very quickly take me down the rabbit hole of distraction. While I am a strong believer that curiosity fuels creativity, there is a bit of a darker side to it for me. I often suffer from imposter syndrome, so I frequently feel like a fraud and worry that people might find out I don’t actually know what I am talking about. I get caught up on this story that I need to be an expert on whatever it is I am posting about, so I read and learn as much as I can on a topic and suddenly 3 hours have passed, I haven’t moved from my couch, I have 25 browser tabs open, and I have written absolutely nada. The reality is that I have never claimed to be an expert on anything I write about here - I am just writing about my experience. And surprise, I am ALREADY an expert in my experience - no research needed. I just need to drop the story that I don’t know enough and put this type of distraction to bed.

Just one more episode/swipe/whatever...

The other type of distraction I noticed was total avoidance. I chose to do a handful of things which in no way moved the needle on any of my to-dos, and these avoidance activities kept me from even thinking about them. My favorite mode of avoidance is getting wrapped up in a streaming binge, so when Queer Eye Season 3 dropped on March 15th I couldn’t help myself. I basically dropped everything, binged the crap out of it, straight up ugly cried during several episodes, and have zero regrets about it (side note: this show has an amazing message about self-love and self-worth and if you haven’t seen it you should totally go binge it right now, seriously RIGHT NOW). However, once I was done with that, I saw a few more new things that piqued my interest and down the rabbit hole of distraction I went.

Another distraction that popped up for me was Bumble (yup, the dating app). I figured since I’ve been single for a few months, maybe it was about time for me to get back out there. So I downloaded the app and slapped together a half-ass profile with just the minimum detail required so I could get to the good stuff (aka swiping). And swipe I did, but I was only swiping left. Over the course of 48 hours I didn’t swipe right on a single person and when I realized this, I asked myself if I actually even wanted to be dating. The answer was a resounding no - I didn’t even want to have a conversation with anyone. The whole idea of meeting someone and doing the whole dance was exhausting and I realized I was only doing it because I thought I should be. Truth is that I am content and so happy just doing my own thing that I deleted the app. Bye boy (that I wasn’t going to swipe right on anyway)!

As long as I was immersed in Netflixland, Huluville, and Bumbletown I didn’t have to think about my project to-do’s and since I am my own boss when it comes to my project, there were no consequences to not getting them done. Victimless crime right? Wrong. I am a victim of my own devices here. By avoiding writing and working on my project, I am really allowing myself to hide away and to numb myself - super counterproductive to the whole intent.

Purposeful distraction.

I am not saying that all distractions are bad - some can definitely serve a positive purpose. Actually, let’s drop the idea of good vs. bad - I prefer unintentional vs intentional distractions. Unintentional distractions take me out of the game, but intentional distractions help turn my attention from something unproductive toward something positive. Pay attention to whether or not you are choosing the distraction (purposeful distraction) or if you have mindlessly turned to it. It’s helpful for me to turn to an intentional distraction, like taking a puppy snuggle break break when I get too drawn into something or stuck on a particular problem. Evie is more than happy to serve as a distraction, and by the time I return to the task at hand I am typically able to approach things with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

 
If you are struggling with focus or committing to a task, my best advice is to notice and observe your distractions. What is behind them? Are you filling a void? Are you avoiding something? Are you hiding from something? Dig in and you might just be surprised what you find. I certainly was.