By Gale Long, guest blogger
Actual Condition – I had some rather vague idea of how easily and often I followed the latest “bright, shiny object” that crossed my consciousness, but it wasn’t until I committed to noticing and naming distractions each day that I began to understand how pervasive these mental side roads are in my thinking.
My level of distraction varies in inverse proportion to how well I’ve prioritized my time. No earth shaking discovery here, but an experiential proof of what I’ve “known” and even “taught.”
My level of distraction is much higher in my home, especially in my office area. There are many unfinished or to be started projects/processes calling for attention and promising easy payoffs. (I spent four days fishing in southern Oregon during my distraction study and was struck by the lack of distraction. I had nothing to do but fish. OK, fly fishing may be the best context for being present that I know, but not having all of the physical traps in the “trappings” of my home environment was stunning. I’m back into removing clutter for a newly appreciated reason.
Challenges or Obstacles to Solving the Problem – My first challenge was to become aware of the distractions. I’ve been working with an organizing coach for several years. We started with my work office and when I retired, we turned our attention to the transition and to my home environment. Like many of my practices in the physical arena, I needed help even noticing my thinking patterns. They are just well worn, old friends I’m so comfortable with I don’t see them. Because I don’t see them I had no trail or data stream that told me what patterns led me astray, or how often it happened. Similarly I had no knowledge of the contexts where distractions are most likely or the circumstances most likely to trigger them.
Which Obstacles Did I Address? – First, I had to become better at noticing and noting my distractions. Second, I had to develop my capacity to choose between following the distraction and returning to task.
Part 3 will be posted later this week.