- an internal event or occurrence, such as daydreaming or looping thoughts, that interfere with focus, attention or concentration.
(Known concept. Vocab Voice created definition.)
Distractions, or being distracted, is typically associated with external factors such as loud noises, visual noise, text message alerts, drama with friends or a phone call. Many do not realize that, just like we have external distractions, we also have internal distractions. Internal distractions are rarely acknowledged or discussed even though they just as easily disrupt our attention. Many people may not be aware of the internal distractions that keep them from concentrating or achieving their goals.
It would be more productive to focus on internal distractions (instead of external distractions) as they are most likely the root cause of our external distractions.
It is well known that when we remove distractions we are better able to concentrate and be productive. However, when we are finding ourselves distracted, common advice focuses on solving external distractions such as sitting in a quiet place, putting our phone on silent or wearing headphones to drown out a loud officemate. It is very seldom — if ever — that advice is given to help drown out internal distractions. Most advice does not differentiate between internal and external distractions. It solely focuses on external distractions which is ironic considering internal distractions are most likely the root cause of most external distractions.
Real life example of internal distraction leading to external distraction: While writing this I realized it would be helpful to write an article with specific examples. Then more article ideas started popping up. I felt overwhelmed. I froze. All writing stopped. I started wondering if a shelf on my bookshelf is sagging. It’s not. My feeling of being overwhelmed does not need to lead to external distraction. I can acknowledge it, yes this is overwhelming, and then I can continue with finishing this piece, which is what I did.
Featured image photo by Anna Elizabeth