Ep. 94 – Overcoming Daily Distraction & Everyday Excuses

You are avoiding something. Of course you are, we all are.

But here’s the thing: The magic you are seeking is in the work you are not doing.

We have many goals and just as many distractions. And often the distractions are the work and support we give to others.

When was the last time something was just about you? Even for 30 minutes, when did you give that time to you?

The Bottom Line on Top of this episode is that action (or inaction) follows your focus. 

Let’s look at this more closely. 

Avoiding is a form of resistance. This is seen in the reasons we offer for why action on our own behalf isn’t quite available. 

I’m too tired, we say. 

Too busy. 

There’s too much else to do first. 

This is resistance, says author Steven Pressfield, in his book called The War of Art. Procrastination, self-doubt, anxiety, and any activity that keeps us from our creative work are just a few examples of resistance’s many guises, he says. 

The only way out of our resistance is right through the rut of it. 

If being tired is a common experience, try turning your focus to the first 30 minutes of your day. Episode 43 outlines three key actions that are tied to biology and brain science that will shift your energy from the start of your day. 

One of those tips is to get direct exposure to sunlight. This triggers the first dopamine release of the day. And getting that hormone active early in the day can help with your alertness, your mental well-being, and even getting more restful sleep later that evening. See that episode for a few more tips.  

If your common complaint is being too busy, pay attention to the daily distractions around you. The average person gets interrupted during their daytime hours approximately every 6 minutes according to the research. 

One study showed that it can take you up to 23 minutes for your brain to return to the previous level of attention on the task you were doing before you were interrupted. So there’s a lot of cost in all those paper cuts.

Distraction is also a way that we chase dopamine – that feel-good hormone that can help us escape boredom, avoid the to-do list, and bounce between the mental trampolines.

This search for constant stimulation from our digital devices has led to what is called “popcorn brain” – meaning a diminished ability to stay focused and satisfied in our slower, offline life. That’s when you find yourself reaching for your phone, almost like the little pull on your fingers to find it.

The cost here isn’t just one of time being scattered about; we’re also sacrificing the opportunity to do some of our best thinking or our best doing, including doing nothing. Next time you find yourself in an elevator or a line, resist the urge to reach for your screen and allow that cognitive space to be filled with your thoughts. Or, look at the world around you-maybe even make eye contact with somebody.

And for the too-much-to-do-first folks, check how much you’re planning and prepping vs. doing.

Episode 74 argues that this is a form of procrastination in itself, and it slows your momentum and delays any intellectual satisfaction. 

When you leave a task unfinished, it’s like writing with a Sharpie marker on your short-term memory. An uncompleted task creates cognitive tension that’s just going to keep itching your brain. 

It’s part of why you remember things when you’re driving, or in the shower, or exercising or when you’re trying to fall asleep. It’s your brain’s way of repeating the item so it stays in your memory because you haven’t gotten it done yet. 

And the longer you put it off by procrastination or perfectionism, the longer the loop will run. It’s only in the doing that the loop gets stopped. 

Back to Steven Pressfield:

“Don’t prepare,” he says, “Begin. Our enemy is not lack of preparation. The enemy is resistance, our chattering brain producing excuses. Start before you are ready.” Phew, that’s a hard one.

One more thought on the too-much loop. If a large portion of your too-much-to-do’s are in fact efforts that you are doing for others or behalf of others, take a look at the origin of the Ask and the reason for your Yes. 

Episode 64 explores some of the conscious and unconscious elements behind the decision to help and it offers 8 questions to ask when you find yourself in situations where you are resisting lending a hand or where you find that your hand is being lent a little too much, too often. 

Whether you’re tired, busy, or juggling those to-do’s, switch your focus to disrupt the inaction or the ineffective patterns. 

The intention of this episode is to remind us to focus a bit more on…us. Take care to take more care. And today might be a great day to do just that.

Your brain is hungry. Give it some intellectual snacks in the
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I'm Kristin

I left my corporate work and dove further into how to navigate this noisy, digital, exhausted world. The result is a methodology centered on communications, productivity, and culture that blends theory with practice and helps people better enjoy the life they worked so hard to get.