Identifying and Managing Distractions

Distractions, distractions, distractions.

Every activity has them and speaking for myself, they are the bane of my existence when I am working on creative projects. Even the most interesting and compelling subjects can be sidelined or even derailed completely by the smallest distraction.

What is a Distraction?

What ISN’T a Distraction. A Distraction can be something as tiny as needing to grab a pen or pencil to write down a story idea while composing prose at the keyboard for a current project to stretching out a break for a few minutes to pop on social sites like Twitter and Facebook to mess around for a while, to more significant things such as needing to stop to eat or perform various day to day chores. Each person’s circumstances will dictate what types of Distractions they will encounter.

How to cut down or eliminate Distractions?

Most Distractions can be minimized or eliminated by scheduling specific times to take care of the important day to day things before sitting down to be creative. I mean, you have to eat, right? Those certain day to day chores have to be completed, right? Creative pursuits have to be prioritized based on how important they are to your daily life. Those who depend on their creativity for their income will place a higher priority on producing content purely for their own amusement. This is a subjective and very wide scale, so trust me when I say that there is room between both endpoints for everyone.

Can Distractions be done away with completely?

Sadly, no. Distractions will always exist and where they exist, there is usually a reduction or at least a delay on productivity. Now, don’t be depressed about this because although annoying, they serve an important function is that they force us to steel our resolve toward what we consider important and rebuild the blocks of commitment that are frequently cannibalized under the banner of “Fun”.

How can I use my Distractions to my benefit?

Believe it or not, Distractions can be used to maintain your focus. The technique that I’ve found that works, most of the time, is to mix what creative project I’m involved with into the Distraction and use that Away Time to keep the project(s) fresh in my mind. Using this particular technique has helped me to keep those creative fires stoked enough to encourage me to get back to work as soon as possible.

Stretching Yourself Creatively

Finally, a more cheerful topic…hehe. This is going to be a short one because I want to put more time into finishing Parallax as soon as possible.

It’s often preached that you should stretch before you exercise. Stretching loosens up the muscles, warms up the body, and gets you ready to do your routine.

Surprise, surprise, your creative muscles work much the same way. Granted, they aren’t physical in nature unless you consider your brain, but the principle still applies. Creative muscles can get flabby when we limit ourselves to what we are most comfortable. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to stick with either what works or what we enjoy most, but anything that is good can be made better.

What do I mean?

Let’s say you are like myself, a writer who enjoys writing fiction. You do it every day, you rack up tons of practice time, and you’re probably pretty good at telling a story. So, why not explore non-fiction efforts like writing a blog or even submitting articles to magazines or newspapers? It doesn’t have to take up all your time and it doesn’t have to go anywhere specific. The point is that you are expanding your skill base and your experiences.

When we stretch ourselves creatively, we open up new doors of exploration. We take ourselves out of our nice, warm, and friendly surroundings and go into an unfamiliar jungle with a machete and cut ourselves a new trail. Every journey lends itself to enhancing what we already know and I’ve never believed in a wasted learning experience.

So, unfurl that creative flag, strap on your pack, and get out there. Your world is waiting for you. 🙂

Patience

I’ve been blessed with an abundance of patience. I’ve also been blessed with a very Irish Temper and there are times when the two come into conflict.

Exercising Patience involves dealing with unpleasant people in such a way that you don’t end up punching them in the face.

Exercising Patience involves trying to understand an opposing point of view without going Nuclear.

Exercising Patience involves shrugging off blatant attempts to provoke you without responding in kind.

Patience is a virtue or so the saying goes. What the saying doesn’t expand upon is that like most virtues, it takes a lot of self-control to keep yourself in check. Self-Control is the hallmark of a disciplined person.

Yes, there are times when my Patience reaches its limit and I have to do what my Father used to call “Drop Checking their Landing Gears”. Now, I don’t advocate violence by any means, but I have found that utilizing a proportional amount of push back can create a desired effect.

Finally, exercising Patience doesn’t make you a pushover. In fact, it makes you a mature individual who knows their limits and acts accordingly.

Damn, still not cheerful enough of a topic. Been one of those days…hehe.