Distraction is (according to the most reliable of sources, Wikipedia.org) the divided attention of an individual or group from the chosen object of attention onto the source of distraction. Distraction is caused by: the lack of ability to pay attention; lack of interest in the object of attention; or the great intensity, novelty or attractiveness of something other than the object of attention. Distractions come from both external sources, and internal sources. While this explanation for distraction is comprehensive and informative, does it mean that distraction is a good or a bad thing? Can distraction be used to enhance our otherwise mundane lives or does it provide us with the means to avoid living our lives to their fullest potential?
For example, being distracted in the workplace is something that is, more often than not, frowned upon but what if being distracted (at appropriate times of course!) increases our productivity because it gives our brains a much needed break from the often strenuous and frustrating tasks set by our managers? As I mentioned in my previous blog post Why do all my good ideas pop into my head when I’m trying to go to sleep?, being distracted can be beneficial to our creativity and I think that it can be applied to our productivity levels as well because it allows for our over-worked brains to process information and solve problems more effectively while also perhaps considering solutions we hadn’t thought of before. Maybe distraction encourages that ‘outside of the box’ thinking that companies are so often asking for?
On the other side of the same coin, there are definitely downsides to distractions. Being distracted whilst operating heavy machinery is probably something best avoided. Lost of limb or a maimed appendage due to distraction is generally not accepted as grounds for a worker’s compensation claim. Additionally, if you’re in a constant state of distraction there are wonderful moments in life that you’re going to miss out on. Missing a dog freak out while eating a piece of lime (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JXtGhtnkBo) because you’re too busy being distracted by something on your phone is possibly one of life’s greatest travesties. Inevitably you will miss something, but at least if you’re present in the moment, it’s less likely to happen.
So whatever you think in terms of the pros and cons of distraction, maybe all you need do is just take a moment and get distracted anyway.