What do you mean I get distrac ...

Sometimes, It’s OK to Be Distracted

What do you mean I get distrac ...

Fill the kettle. Switch on the heat. I pull a tea bag from the cupboard. The kettle clicks off. Water pours into my mug. I drop in the tea bag. Tendrils of green swirl into the pure, clean water. It’s time to go.

Preparing a cup of tea is my signal to get to work. I’ve got writing to do today.

Cup in hand, I head toward my office space. But I only make it as far as the living room. My daughter sits on the floor, looking up at me with a big smile.

OK, I’ll play. I set the cup on the table and toss my daughter in the air.

delighted dog digs dirt to discover
bounty of big bones buried beneath
oh look, a rabbit

Sitting in front of the computer, I finish the last few drops of tea. I had fun playing with my daughter, but now I’m ready to work.

Yet I notice someone replied to a discussion I’m following on an online forum. It’s an interesting topic, and I click through to see what the person had to say. How fascinating, I think, reading their response.

I add a reply to the thread, and contribute to a few other topics. The conversation is good, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

Some time later, I return to my text editor. The page is still blank.

rapidly racing round and round rabbit
trails twisting and traversing this way and that
hey, a stick

Maybe a change in scenery will help me focus. I pack my bag and head to a local cafe.

While ordering a cup of coffee, I notice a couple friends of mine chatting in the corner. I walk over and say hello.

“How’s work going?” they ask.

“Pretty well.”

“Do you often come here?”

“Depends. Sometimes it’s hard to focus at home.”

They nod, remembering that I have a ten-month old at home. We chat for a few more minutes.

The barista calls out my order. I wish my friends well, get my coffee, and go back to my computer. Time to get started. Again.

good good got to get the goodness
slobber on and savor this stupendous stick
oh, a baby

Another friend comes into the coffee shop.

I haven’t had a chance to talk with him for a while. He takes a seat next to me, and we catch up on life, work, family, and holiday plans. It’s good to talk. It’s nice to connect.

A while later, I return to my work. I still have lots of writing to do.

lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick
most marvelous to meet my mini master
hmmm, I smell a bone

***

Though I often pretend I’m a machine – that I can just sit down and work for hours and hours without stopping – the reality is that I am not. I’m a human being. I get distracted.

For a long time, my response was to be annoyed at myself for not being able to focus. But feeling bad wasn’t helpful. It didn’t move me forward.

I’ve learned instead to accept the distractions – to deal with them as they are, not as I wish them to be. I compensate for them.

I build breaks into my day. I schedule time to give rest to my body and mind.

I embrace the need for connection. And when unexpected opportunities arrive, I appreciate them, and enjoy the people I’m interacting with.

I set realistic expectations for what I can accomplish, factoring in my capacity to be distracted.

I study the causes of my distractions. Often I find that they signal a lack or need in my life.

Distractions are a reality. They’re part of life. But by learning to embrace and appreciate them, we can weave them into the work we do. As we create, connect, learn, and make a difference, sometimes it’s OK to be distracted.

***

hello handsome ham-bone once hidden
celebrate the conclusion with chew chomp crush
nope, not going anywhere this time

I don’t get as much writing done as I planned in the morning. But I’m OK with that. I connected with the people in my life. I reinforced bonds of community.

And in the afternoon, when I sit down again to write, I’m able to focus. I finish the work I set out to do.

###

4 thoughts on “Sometimes, It’s OK to Be Distracted”

  1. I appreciate your reflection, Joshua. I admire how you allow yourself the liberty to interact with others who didn’t previously reserve a line item on your calendar. Indeed, I see that you are integrating community life with your work as you allow your distractions to become appointments. This is a good challenge for me, especially when neighbors come by unannounced! Look forward to your next post.

  2. as a tea professional, I just want to note that when preparing green tea (as is suggested in the opening paragraph) it is optimal to use less than boiling water. I promise you the tea will taste infinitely better–your green tea will taste less bitter and less astringent

    so, like 170 degrees F water (not boiling which is 212 F). So if you hear the kettle whistle, maybe pour out the water into the cup and let it sit for a minute or two (to let the water cool down) than add the tea.

    Eitherway, I’m really happy to hear tea drinking is part of your daily ritual. And I feel you about sometimes getting annoyed about being distracted or not accomplishing what you thought was most important, only to discover the distraction was in fact more valuable than whatever it is you wanted to do.

    1. You are quite right. 🙂

      Though I will say my error was in editing/writing and not in preparing the tea. I let the water sit for a moment in my cup before I added the tea bag. The pause is a nice chance to breathe and draw to center.

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