One Of the biggest challenges for people that have goals, is turning off all distractions. Every where you look, there’s a distraction. Whether its the stress of keeping up with day to day obligations, or friends and family raving about the newest Marvel movie that came out, everything seems to be calling our attention away from what matters the most.
Distractions are just bad! Or are they really? A distraction can be a sign that you really need to focus, because likely you’re on the cusp of building that can have a huge positive impact, once the finished product is accomplished. A distraction can also be a sign that maybe you’ve been missing something, and time away is the key to adding more value toward what you’re working on.
The number one reason for burn out (or writers block in the case of a writer) is not allowing yourself to get distracted for awhile. I’m not talking about putting off what you know you need to do indefinitely because something else has your attention, but allowing yourself to be distracted to allow the mind to clear itself out. The main reason new and fresh ideas don’t come, is because your mind is full. You can’t grab a brief case filled to the brim with a million dollars, when your hands are full of pennies.
The mind’s naturally state is clarity, just like water. You can’t see clear enough through water until the mud settles, and so it is the same with trying to pull ideas from the mind when its cluttered with noise, and sometimes that noise can actually be the stress that you feel from over obsessing with your work. Your work should be of the utmost importance to you, but you are the instrument, and unless your instrument is uncluttered, your work will suffer.
You’re doing the world a disservice by not allowing yourself time to recharge. Be present in the moment and enjoy things for awhile. You don’t have to go out with drinking buddies or go on a eating binge. The aim is to be distracted for a while, not to engage in self destructive coping mechanisms. Take time out to go for a walk, watch a movie, make that phone call you’ve been putting off for months.
Distractions can be the key to rejuvenating ourselves and tapping into that new perspective that we need in order to add more value to our work. In most cases, you don’t get inspiration from directly thinking about the task. The majority of the time, that spark of genius comes from learning a new hobby that has nothing to do with your line of work, or doing yard work and taking a break to drink a cold glass of lemonade, and then, EUREKA!
The key to focus is decluttering the mind. Do something that stimulates you mentally and demands physical engagement from you. Being distracted is a way to allow the mud to settle in the water after its been swished around a bit. The same can be attributed to the mind. You’ll regain focus when you go away for awhile and come back, and you’ll know when its time. This is where you must learn to trust yourself, and your own timing.
The most productive thing you can do is honor your gift by doing things that you enjoy, things that allow your mind to wonder and marvel at the simplicity of life. Give yourself a moment to be you, apart from the work that you do. Our work is only an extension of who we truly are, it is not the whole of us. Once you fully understand this concept, you’ll be able to work non-stop for longer periods of time without burning out, but of course with time set aside where you allow yourself to be distracted. You are the gift. Honor yourself.