“This is temptation calling,” is a friend’s way of roping me from work and persuading me to joining him for some boating. Even though it’s not either of our nature to abandon responsibility, on a beautiful workday, we’ll reprioritize our routines and find ourselves the only folks on the water. Pleasant distractions (like blog posts?) help us all to relax, defocus, open our perspective and bring fresh answers upon returning to work.
But even pleasant distractions aren’t always welcome. During some special moments, we find ourselves in the zone with ideas flying like sparks at a pace so quick they can’t all be caught. You may have experienced when your thoughts arrived like a sudden downpour or as flashes of light. We don’t know from what cloud they came and without knowing the steps to a rain dance, we fear that any distraction will bring drought and our hit song, prize winning poem, billion dollar business plan, or masterpiece painting – will be lost.
While deep in our flow, distractions can feel like attacks. Old fashioned defenses such as taking our telephone off the hook, or placing a do not disturb sign on the door will no longer stop our army of digital screens. Our increasingly louder, 24/7 hyper-connected world alerts us – like it or not – each time a butterfly bumps into a lilac and injures its wing.
After my son was born, interruptions became frequent and thoughts were lost down the drain with the bathwater. Then, another dad gave me some surprising advice that made all the difference and it’s something I’d like to share. He suggested welcoming all interruptions, especially at the early stages of our creative process. Since we generate more ideas than we can possibly follow up on, it takes considerable effort to record, sort, select and do. Instead our interruptions become a natural filter. The distractions cause our bad ideas to be forgotten while the great ones like air bubble always float back to the surface.