Distraction and procrastination come in a variety of flavors. I’ve noticed that when I’m “distracted,” and I walk over and stare out the window, it’s a very different experience than when I feed the distraction by cramming in a few emails or make a phone call.
How often do you let your mind wander? Are you able to give up the list in your head when you’re cooking or in the shower or taking a walk? It’s no accident that new ideas pop into our heads when we least expect it. In our enthusiasm to be productive, we forget to give our mind/body moments to be “receptive” — that is, open to daydreaming, open to letting our minds wander.
I call these different approaches receptive and deceptive distraction. A longer post can be found here or here.
One thought on “When Distraction is Good”
Ha! Your post reminded me of a piece Jamias Cascio, a prominent futurist I follow, wrote for Fast Company, “Should Creative Workers Use Cognitive-Enhancing Drugs?”. But while I was hunting for that article, the first results I found pointed to an article he wrote for The Atlantic entitled, “Get Smarter”? in which he mentions your work! I’m starting to realize how interconnected the ideas and thinkers I follow are. This is the second time in a week where an article from person X reminded me of something I’d read by person Y only to discover person Y quoted person X in her article. I guess it’s not really that weird, but I’m sure getting a kick out of it :).
Anyways, here’s the part of Jamais’ Fast Company article that is most relevant to your post (Oh, and btw, I’m personally not a fan of cognitive enhancement drugs):
“But ‘letting your mind wander’ is very often an important part of the creative process. The ‘aha!’ experience comes from the brain making connections between superficially unrelated subjects, and identifying a deeper link. How do enhancements that focus our attention affect this process? Is it possible that cognitive drugs enhance one aspect of knowledge work–productivity–while diminishing another–creativity?”