Discover How to Make Distraction Work for You

Discover How to Make Distraction Work for You by Pearl Allard (Look Up Sometimes)

This post was inspired by Five Minute Friday’s prompt: Discover. Two rules: 1) Freewrite for five minutes 2) Don’t edit. (I broke all the rules.)

Maybe this isn’t you – you don’t suffer from distractions. You’re ultra-focused and a productivity maniac. If you are, I’m totally jealous, but I’m also totally willing to learn from you. Would you be willing to leave a comment sharing a tip with how you stay focused?

For the rest of us, while it may not appear on the surface to be a super spiritual topic, distraction can wreak havoc and keep us from accomplishing what we know we’re meant to do (or to discover what that is in the first place!).

Two nights ago, I sat down to write, but somehow I ended up online taking a right-brain/left-brain quiz instead. In my defense, I was researching an analogy – that didn’t end up working – but did you know they’re now saying it’s a myth that we’re predominantly one side of the brain or the other? Um, anyway, if the tests were reliable, the first five indicated I’m equally split down the middle, which I already knew. (But I had to take three more just to be sure.)

Right?! How ridiculous is that. I’m ashamed to even admit it.

What do you do when you have work to accomplish and needs to meet, but distractions of every kind lure you here, there and everywhere?

Don Perrini, Professor of Creativity and Innovation and Director of the Creativity and Innovation Honors Institute at Cornerstone University spoke about “getting out of our own way” at a plenary session at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference I recently attended. He said, “the voice of resistance always starts when you’re about to do something important.”

True, isn’t it? It doesn’t bother us when we’re online wasting time taking eight quizzes or eating another can of Pringles. But as soon as we’re onto something important – BOOM! Out comes resistance. Slicker than a snake. Spouting lies about how much time we have so it can wait, how unimportant or boring the work is, so why even bother? Hey look – a butterfly!

Professor Perrini suggested a rather counter-intuitive thought – thanking the voice that distracts.

“Thank you, your very presence confirms that my work is good, true, and beautiful.” Otherwise, why would it have shown up? Time-wasters and distractions are ultimately settling for a path of least resistance. Mediocrity. Like riding a carousel when I could actually go horseback riding. (Remember that scene from Mary Poppins when the horses in a sidewalk fairytale world hop off the carousel and go for a ride…oh, getting distracted again…)

Discover How to Make Distraction Work for You by Pearl Allard (Look Up Sometimes)

As a Christian, this makes a lot of sense. Sin keeps me from ultimate happiness.

It made me think of one of the first humans on the planet. Cain was so distracted comparing his lack of favor with God with his brother’s favor with God that it never entered his mind to own up to the reasons God wasn’t pleased with him and change. Instead, he felt unnecessarily threatened and flew into a rage. How often do I look at someone who is successful and feel unnecessarily threatened?

So God has an actual conversation with Cain and tries to reason with him. “If you do well, shall you not be accepted? But if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 MEV)

Cain decides God doesn’t know what He’s talking about and puts his little brother six feet under.

I am not saying getting sidetracked by silly online tests is equal to murder. Or even that distractions are always necessarily sin. I just don’t want to ignore the warnings in the small stuff because small grows into big.

So I gave it a try. I saw distraction coming and felt the battle between the important and the trivial. I’m here to tell you, I think this is a habit I’m going to have to practice frequently. I didn’t exactly get it right, but something important still got done. That was about the time the voice of resistance turned up the volume to nearly deafening. So I said it outloud. Somehow this helps.

“Thank you, your very presence confirms my work is good, true, and beautiful.” Despite a grueling mental battle, the day’s items of importance were accomplished.

Resistance will hunt us down when we have something important to do – a God-given assignment. Why not send distraction packing by thanking it for showing up? (And then showing it the figurative door with a forceful kick.) One small step for you, and one giant leap for good, beautiful, and true!

What good, true, and beautiful work are you going to take one small step towards today? I’d love for you to go do it and – only if it’s not a distraction – tell me in the comments!






10 thoughts on “Discover How to Make Distraction Work for You

  1. Oh, Pearl! Wonderful insight. Maybe we writers are more prone to distraction than many other people. After all, I’m just writing . . . I’m not on a deadline . . . I really need to be doing something else.

    Wow! I loved this and am forwarding it to my sister, the distractable sister, not the one who is NEVER distracted because she has developed a notecard system that tells her, every single day, what she needs to accomplish. Wonder of wonders! She always follows those cards.

    Her first assignment every day is to wrap herself inside a warm devotional time, including much prayer, and visit with the Lord.

    It works for her. In an effort to follow her good example, I made a set of cards for myself several years ago. But I lost them.

    1. Oh Debbie! ? I laughed when I got to, “I lost them.” I would, too. Or else they’d sit in their box untouched because I forgot about them.

      Thank goodness we can create our own systems. (Except that it requires, well, making our own systems!) Glad to know I’m not alone. And thrilled you’re sharing with a sister.

      I kinda love how Jerry Jenkins says he schedules time to procrastinate!

  2. I LOVED that session with Don Perini. I find myself distracted so often as well. I light a candle on my kitchen table to remind myself that I’m supposed to be writing or editing (and not trolling Twitter!).

    But I absolutely adore saying this OUT LOUD: “Thank you, your very presence confirms my work is good, true, and beautiful.”

    The demon whispering discouragement and distraction to you can’t read your mind.

    1. Janyre, what a beautiful idea to light a candle! Love the symbolism. I’ll have to try it.

      I haven’t joined Twitter yet, but I imagine I’ll light a few candles when I do!

      Yes ma’am, no mind-reading! 🙂 Glad for that. Somehow that reminds me of the quote from Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton, “I don’t need easy. I just need possible.”

    1. Thank you so much for pointing that out, Diane! I appreciate you. Met with someone this week actually about making some website changes. Social share stuff is going on the list!

  3. I’m writing my manifesto as a copywriter. Then I’m spending 1 hour rewriting my novel. If I do said tasks, I get the reward of eating half a chocolate tart while reading a novel in the park.

    Great post. I love the concept of how resistance alerts us to the importance of our work. What we resist is what we need to go toward. It’s a guidance system in a screwy way.

    Yeah, the minute I sit down to write, I need to scope out the contents of the refrigerator. Hmm.

    It helps me to set a time boundary. One hour to rewrite. Or fifteen minutes to crank out a first draft. If the time boundary is less than comfortable, all the better; it forces me to knuckle down and write. I also turn off my mail and my cell phone so I can focus.

    1. Diane, I just love you to pieces! Writing makes me hungry, too. Chocolate tarts sound delicious. How did your goals go? I love your tips! Timers help me, too, but it never occurred to me to turn off my phone (I use the timer ON my phone). Going to try that. Appreciate that you pointed out narrow time windows are actually helpful.

  4. This post is filled with so many nuggets. I am like you. I think we are writing twins. I have lots of distractions too and sometimes get sidetracked on online tests when I am trying to accomplish something with my writing. I loved the quote from the conference that you shared. I am now saying thank you to my distractions to. By the way, I tweeted this. I didn’t know your twitter handle.

    1. Sweet Mary, thank you! Glad to know I’m not alone. True story: I almost signed up for Twitter the other day but got distracted…? (So when I make the jump, I’ll let you know my handle.) In all seriousness, thank you for tweeting it! Appreciate you dropping by.?

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