How Can We Turn Distractions Into Focus?

Take a Moment by Jann Alexander © 2014
Take a Moment by Jann Alexander © 2014

Finding focus is a challenge.

The distractions are limitless, more so because we see lists like this one everyday. If we read each article, we’ll learn what we should or shouldn’t do, say, read or promise. Here’s a typical list of Most Viewed stories from Inc., but it could be from any online site:

Working your way through all of these self-help articles might just improve your skills, business acumen, motivation, success, happiness, sales, organization and so on. But you’d probably lose your best client or get fired before you finished reading them. Because articles like these are all just distractions, to which I am easily distracted. Aren’t you?

Who isn’t tempted to learn the “10 Habits of Remarkably Charismatic People”? Or “4 Surprisingly Effective Things to Say”? But let’s get back on task.  Tweet: Distractions are tempting us. How can we take control of our focus? #productivity #biz

Yes, they are very very tempting distractions, disguised as helpful must-read information that promises not to be just like the last several articles we read just like that. And I succumb to these distractions easily. Maybe you do, too. So the real question is, how can we take control of our focus and get back on task?

If we want to stay focused, we need to have some concept of what we want to be focused on. To borrow from this morning’s restorative yoga session, we need to “set our intentions.” Translated into business-speak, this is simply setting our goals. But it seems loftier, more cosmic, when we set our intentions in the yogic manner.  And that act has more power than merely jotting down goals on our to-do list. Instead, if we bow our heads, breathe deeply, concentrate for a moment on our intentions, and set them in our minds, we’re bringing our physical and spiritual selves to bear witness.

Staying focused on our intentions presents the biggest challenge we face today. It’s practically an epidemic.  So which experts can we trust?   Tweet: Staying focused on our intentions presents the biggest challenge we face today. #selfhelp

There are some strategies that can aid our intent, too. They might include

  • avoiding self-improvement sites and articles for a pre-set time: an hour, a day, a week, a month, a lifetime
  • setting a specific time each day for distractions, and letting them occur with total acceptance and utter abandon, but also with a deadline
  • picking up pen and paper instead of iPad and iPhone, and letting what happens happen
  • allowing ourselves time each day to reflect upon our needs and priorities, in order to better recognize where our energy belongs

None of us need yet another list on how to stay focused (and if you merely google that—don’t!—you’ll find they already exist); instead, I’d suggest that the best distraction-free know-how will come from within ourselves. After all, who knows us better than we do? Who knows our weaknesses, our temptations, our avoidance maneuvers, our hopes and goals and dreams any better than we do?

No one, of course. Is it so hard to spend time with ourselves, and hear what we know in our hearts, that we’ll turn to online strangers to tell us the answers we’re craving? If yes, that’s okay. Accept that. And know this: we are the experts. Our expertise in at least one area, ourselves, is unchallenged.

The impulse to distraction will always be with us. It is very human, because we are very intelligent, emotive creatures who live to soak up every bit of knowledge, and every experience, we can absorb. But not every little bit of rarefied “expert” air that we inhale is needed, or even beneficial. For what we really need, we must turn to our own best experts: ourselves.

Sigh. With distractions everywhere, and our resistance low, not much gets done. Mama said there’d be days like this.

Actually, Mama didn’t have a clue. 

What distractions are your biggest weaknesses, and how do you extract yourself?

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7 thoughts on “How Can We Turn Distractions Into Focus?

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  1. Excellent post Jann.

    I think taking the time to ground oneself – literally falling back into the essence of our physical self – in awareness – as you mentioned in Yoga or similar meditative practices is far more powerful than most people realize.

    Grounding – clarity of mind – willful intention and purpose – this in meditative quiet reflection given back in honesty to the Universe is far greater than all the thousands of “self-help/gain control” articles. Certainly, some are useful – but many are just fillers.

    As you’ve mentioned, we are creatures that love to be distracted by our necessities in life. It’s about filtering and setting aside “play time” — but I think the more grounded and authentic we become, the less we have the need to search out the true “wasted time” distractions, as our goals and works become more fine tuned with our truest wishes.

    But the key? How many truly adore the easy street – rather than do the self-homework – because it takes dedication, intention and willingness to pursue this grounding of self? Quick fixes seem all the more appetizing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Laughing to myself — yes, I suppose there could be another “do really need this info?” column here in my answer.

        I admit though – I love bullet lists – especially if they have graphics and not numbers — easy check marks!

        Liked by 1 person

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