Kicking the Distraction Habit

To succeed at writing or any undertaking, we need to make good use of something we all have: will power.

By “succeed” I mean reaching The End of your picture book, poem, short story, novel, memoir, shopping list – or whatever objective you seek to accomplish.

We use will power daily…to lift our arms, turn on the television, take the garbage out, and keep from eating that sixth, delicious chocolate chip cookie (that would be me). Without will power, we are at the mercy of distractions, laziness, and excess snacking.

Distractions play such a passive role in our lives. Do we really want to give them so much airtime? They don’t contribute to long-term happiness, and they take us away from what we could be doing that triggers true satisfaction. To overcome distraction, it doesn’t take a village. All it takes is a little awareness. Thought exercised before taking action.

Start by identifying the distraction; writing about it can help. For instance, every time the urge to check Facebook pops up, stop and write about it. I’m going to spend fifteen minutes on Facebook because… Contemplate if there’s something else you could be doing that could breathe greater life into your being, and be of more benefit, either to yourself or others. This doesn’t mean we should never indulge in distractions (thumbing through trivial fashion magazines is one of my favorites), but the key is in knowing when to stop and move on to more worthwhile goals. If we authors gave in to every distraction, our writing lives would be non-existent. What would be the fun in that?

Once the distractions are under control, the way is paved to focus or concentrate on the important: accomplishments. Did you know that the average human attention span was twelve seconds in 2000? This number dropped to eight seconds in 2013. We’re competing with goldfish.

Concentration can be nurtured and improved by taking time daily to breathe. Spending ten minutes a day in a quiet place, in a comfortable position, doing nothing but focusing on breath (“In” “Out”), promotes focus. And calm. And when we are calm, we are capable of thinking before indulging in trivial pursuits and distractions. See how it works?

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7 years ago

All I can say is good job. Thank you.

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