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In this over 50 stage of life, I haven’t given much thought as to why you want to avoid distractions. This weekend gave me an opportunity to do just that. A near run in with a dangerous distraction was the wake up call I needed!

How It All Happened

My husband (Robby) and I spent the 4th of July at our cabin in the woods with our dog Charlie. It was the best weather and we all enjoyed a lot of time outside. One of Charlie’s favorite things is when I take him for a walk.

We don’t walk very far, but Charlie loves to investigate all the smells that being in the woods provides. It’s his time to shine as a “mountain dog”!

Charlie “The Mountain Dog

Now keep in mind that while we do live in the woods, it is also a neighborhood. There are other cabins nearby; however, in the summer, it is so lush that you can hardly tell where the other cabins are located.

On one of our walks, the sun was shining bright. We set out onto the narrow road and began our walk. I noticed a pervasive vine that grows rapidly in my neighbor’s shrubbery, so I took hold and began pulling it out as we walked. The vine has no deep roots and comes off very easily. It is quite satisfying to remove and there begins the problem. Although removing the vine is a good thing, it wasn’t my purpose. I was watching the vine and not where WE were walking!

The Encounter

Charlie is leading the way up the road and I am happily pulling vines out of the forest plants. Sounds fine until I finally look ahead! About 5 feet in front of Charlie is a long black snake sunning himself on the warm pavement.

pic of snake  in walking path

I think I squeaked, locked the leash and pulled him back. I took a closer look and confirmed that indeed it was a snake. I’ve removed enough snakes from our pool at home to know he wasn’t poisonous, but we couldn’t cross and I didn’t want to mess with it and try to manage the dog at the same time.

Of course I did what any good wife would do and called Robby to come help me. He said “Wow, how’d you almost miss that laying in the road?” He then used a fallen tree branch to gently nudge Mr. Snake back into the forest. Charlie and I proceeded with our walk.

Distracted Ponderings

The walk gave me time to think about Robby’s question. The answer is not one I like to admit – I was distracted! Pulling weeds had grabbed my attention. I no longer was focused on my purpose, which was to walk the dog.

Not to be overly dramatic, even though the snake wasn’t poisonous, a bite for Charlie or myself could have caused great pain and a potential health situation. I was quite angry at myself for losing my focus. I am very well aware of the dangers surrounding the cabin, but I simply let my attention go where it wanted.

Needless to say, the rest of our walks were done with great focus!

What Is Distraction

Distraction can be defined as a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else. It can also be an object that directs one’s attention away from something else. I think it’s pretty clear, the WEEDS/VINE were my distraction.

Here are some examples of distractions:

  • External distractions – noise, information overload, cell phones, mind wandering
  • Internal distractions – hunger, fatigue, illness, worrying

The cause of distraction is simple. It is the lack of ability to pay attention or a lack of interest. All distractions aren’t bad. A little daydreaming can provide a much needed break from the rigors of work or school. Positive distractions lead to positive feelings.

Distractions are bad when they become a habit and create an inability to maintain focus. This bad habit can cause problems at work and at home. Your work performance will suffer along with your relationships, as you will miss out on developing connections with family and friends.

How to Avoid Distractions

In order to avoid distractions you have to be fully present. Paying attention to an action that moves you toward what you want or your purpose. One of the biggest distractions in our culture today is our cell phones. Young and old alike find it hard to resist the “ding” of notifications!

Here are some things to consider to help you avoid distractions:

Manage Internal Triggers

  • Eat regularly and well
  • Get enough sleep
  • Rest when you are ill – don’t over do it
  • Don’t worry – it changes nothing anyway!

Manage Your Time

  • Plan a regular routine for getting to work so you are not rushed
  • Allow flexibility in your schedule for breaks
  • Don’t let others steal your time
  • Reduce daily chaos
  • Plan time to invest in friends and family

Practice Focus

  • Think ahead
  • Remove choice – decide ahead of time
  • Keep vision or goal in mind
  • Don’t procrastinate – complete tasks in pieces
  • Remove external distractions (seek quiet, turn off phone)

Science has proven that focused attention improves the quality of our work. While we may love multitasking, it divides our brainpower. That’s a big price to pay! When the goal or purpose is important, stick to one thing at a time.

There is a more nice article in nirandfar.com about avoiding distractions in today’s world. Check it out if you want more information.

Final Thoughts

I’ve always been a very decisive and responsible person. It has been a little hard to recognize that even I can be easily distracted. This empty nest season may have left me with less responsibilities to carry, but maintaining my focus should always be a priority.

Practicing mindfulness, less multitasking (pulling weeds while walking dog – LOL), and being present are what I’m going to work on! I would love to hear your thoughts and other ways to avoid distractions.

“You can always find a distraction if you are looking for one”

Tom Kite

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