Driven to Distraction

Driven to Distraction

Hutchinson’s Law:
 Any occurrence requiring undivided attention will be accompanied by a compelling  distraction.

You’re looking at the computer, sitting with pen in hand, or staring at a blank canvas of some kind and before you know it, you’re in the kitchen making yourself a cup of tea. While the water is boiling, you might as well go to the bathroom. You take the cup of tea to your work area and sit down again and wonder if you put the milk away. Back in the kitchen, you realize you want something with your tea and by the time you get back to what you were doing, you forgot if you even had a train of thought to begin with.

You can substitute any of the above with making a telephone call that couldn’t wait, taking out the trash, finishing something else you’ve started on, etc. etc. I’ve even been known to get in the car and drive to the store to get the cookie or soda I can’t seem to live without.

Though there are times when getting distance from a project is the best thing you can do. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we know the difference between away for the right reason or when we’re simply avoiding doing what we have set out to do.

Are you one of those who set his or her sites on doing something and dives right in, barely taking time out to eat? Or, are you of the other breed that sits down and finds a million and one ways to distract yourself? Knowing this could be helpful.

If distraction is your vice, what’s really going on?

When I’ve examined my motives for being antsy, I’ve noticed a few things.

  1.  I’m having a hard time getting started.
    2.    I want my inspiration to happen more quickly than it is.
    3.    I’m stuck and am afraid the more I sit there, the more discouraged I’ll get.
    4.    I want to run from the tyrant inside my head who’s telling me I’ll never get it.
    5.    I know I deserve to be having more fun than this!

It’s often hard to be really honest with ourselves but it is such a relief when we finally make friends with our shortcomings or temporary lulls as well as with our strong suits. When we can, we finally accept our humanity.

What helps me stick to a task at hand is to make sure I get what I need before I begin. For me that is doing some form of exercise, eating so I’m not hungry and having everything I need at my workplace. I could call it a play station but even if I love what I’m about to do, I wouldn’t have to go through these steps if it were play.

If you’re new to creating structure for yourself, it’s helpful to make a list of what you need to feel settled, before you get started. Then, put what you need for the project where it is easily attainable – not in the kitchen or some other place where distractions will vie for your attention.

Also, give yourself the same kind of encouragement and support you’d give to anyone you love. It’s easier to be creative and try on new ideas when you offer yourself a loving hand. This may sound trite, but I know the hardest whip (metaphorically speaking) I have ever experienced is the one I use to beat myself up when I’m not meeting my expectations.

Children who are given room to play without being criticized find their way to creative genius. They travel deeply into their subject, totally engrossed and cannot easily be distracted. It doesn’t matter how their drawing looks or how many times their building falls down, they start over again and they’re almost always proud of their accomplishment. If we give ourselves that same free reign, we may find ourselves enjoying the passion and glee we so often see children display.  And from this state, why would we ever want to be sidetracked?


Published by the Maui Weekly Newspaper