Could embracing distractions be the key to better performance?

Being around my 16-year-old son as he studies for his Highers has reminded me of our ability as humans to be easily distracted!  We know what we should be doing… but we all too easily find ways to distract ourselves from the task at hand (I must be doing it now as I just remembered I need to book a tee time to play golf tomorrow!).

This made me think about the role distractions play in what we achieve and how these can often (although not always) be self-inflicted (although the advent of the internet and mobile devices have increased the range of ways we can be distracted, we still have a choice as to whether they do or not).

I get frustrated when self-inflicted distractions mean the things I’m working on take longer than they should and I can also berate myself for not being able to concentrate. Not emotions I’m keen to experience too often so I’ve been working on…

  1. Acceptance – getting distracted is an important part of how we ‘work’ as humans and can help keep us out of harm’s way (in reality we don’t ‘lose’ concentration – it just ‘shifts’ on to something else that might be important). We all do it and it is NOT a weakness
  2. Awareness – I practice being more aware of when I’m starting to ‘drift’ and choose to either refocus on the task at hand or to allow myself to have a conscious distraction
  3. Using the conscious distraction time more meaningfully – get up and move, read a few pages from a book, put the washing on – rather than checking my phone

I make these posts short because I know we all find it hard to focus for long periods…. and hopefully this has been a useful distraction from what you were doing before you decided to read it!!!

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