Turning Distractedness into Inspiration
Distractedness gets a bad rep for the prevalent byproduct of un-productivity or procrastination. But it can be positive too. The determining element is the way in which you harness your distractions. With a slight shift of method and intent, you can turn your distractedness into inspiration.
Distractedness is one of the most common forms of procrastination. Especially in the technology age, it is too easy to meander aimlessly and idly down the numerous social feeds awaiting our attention. Meanwhile, we increasingly lose ground on whatever it is that we should be doing.
But there are ways to harness this distracted energy and turn it into productivity. It is quite natural for the human mind to grow restless and to wander off when we need it to focus.
So we may as well accept that fate. And with that acceptance, we can strategize.
Approach your distractedness with an open mind
Taking an active mental role when you are procrastinating is the first key to turning distractedness into inspiration.
I find when I over-focus on something, my mind grows weary with the whole subject and refuses to churn out anything of consequence. The water runs dry and I grow frustrated. I stagnate and come to a screeching halt, with nothing to show for it. This is usually when I get distracted by something that gives my brain a break, only to return with guilt for my lost time.
But when I allow my mind a break to guiltlessly wander wherever it so chooses, I can re-approach that canvas anew, with fresh energy and ideas.
Till your mental soil
Sometimes our minds are far too jumbled, the soil dehydrated by productivity, that it becomes impossible to plant a seed. We need fertile minds for the reception of inspirational seeds so that, once planted, can take root and bloom.
When we allow our thoughts to clear a bit, to wander on their own accord, quite suddenly it seems that we provide space for these insights to fit in. They finally have enough charge for that theoretical light bulb to come on.
I have found that with this open mindset, my distractedness can easily be the cure to my creative blocks and lack of focus.
The way life happens, you never know when or where you may be hit with an epiphany. Sometimes there are little lucky spontaneous combustions of ideas that occur at the most convenient times. A miraculous notion hits you right when within the moment of creation. But oftentimes, these epiphanies find you when you are distracted, wandering the internet or taking a nap.
Embrace the inevitable
Understanding the nature of your distractedness empowers you to dictate its nature and its impending results. Perhaps it would be more worthwhile to abandon the futile effort of avoiding distraction altogether and instead attempt to make our distractions productive.
That, of course, sounds both counterintuitive and counterproductive. Why would we warmly invite and then actively engage with our distractions? But the places we find ourselves when we are distracted are also places from which we can source inspiration. They are the rabbit holes of our curiosity, and the curiosities that we pursue are often reflective of our passions.
For example, one of my most frequented responsibility escape routes is scrolling endlessly through Pinterest. And when I finally close my tab, I am usually full of guilt for my wasted time.
But I began to approach my social media consumption in a different way, ingesting it with a productive mindset, which led me to consider it in a useful manner.
If I come across something inspiring, I will take notes or put an inspired idea on my mood board
Some watch TV, others doodle in notebooks, others read a book, while others may take a walk.
But within all of these activities, if you productively approach them — which is to say you engage with them with a purpose in mind — you can transform your poison into purpose.
Pick your poison.
If we know we will inevitably become distracted, you can control your vacant time by controlling your outlet. Find a productive distraction and gravitate to that scene whenever your brain needs a break.
You don’t have to overachieve with this. You will rarely distract yourself with things that you don’t automatically gravitate towards. We would all love to distract ourselves with an intense workout or kale or reading a novel. But sometimes it is just not a realistic personal expectation.
It’s okay to let your distraction be just what it is: a distraction. I am not trying to discourage you from creating a great habit to employ your wandering mind. (We’ll get there later.) For now, we just want to cultivate a safe and inspiring space to allow yourself to wander.
Find a distraction that is conducive and natural to who you are. Take an easy walk outside, talk to a friend, flip through a magazine. Your go-to distraction can be something that you already do all of the time.
The only difference you need to implement right now is your mind’s interpretation of that activity.
Schedule your distraction
Our brains work according to rhythms. If you are not sure what yours are, try to monitor your days according to your highest and lowest points of productivity. You probably already have a hint if you identify as a morning bird or a night owl.
If you know that you can work diligently for 3 hours in the morning, hide your potential distraction gateways until noon so that you don’t have any mistaken interruptions. Then, in the same way you would plan a lunch break, schedule a finite stretch of time for distraction. And let your mind guiltlessly wander down that preselected, potentially inspiring rabbit hole.
Also published on Medium.