Mindless distractions

Ilkley moorToday I went running on the moors, not having been there for a week due to my hay fever. As usual I started off being very mindful – noticing that my stride had lessened in length as I climbed the hill and that my breathing was getting quicker as I was running against the wind.

I observed that the lambs were bigger and fatter and that the ground felt springier and softer underfoot due to the rain that we recently had. 

I marvelled at the profusion of cotton grass which made parts of the moors look like they have been dusted with icing sugar.

curlewThe unmistakable cries of the 2 curlews circling above were loud and clear as they tried to distract me away from their nest. I recalled my encounter last year with a curlew chick which I rescued from the bog. 

As so it continued until at some point my mind wandered into work and I lost awareness of where I was going. I found myself running on a path which would take me in a different direction to the one that I had planned when I started out.

I have a healthy respect for the moors and know that it is easy to get lost.  As I stopped to get my bearings, looking around for recognisable landmarks, I thought how easy it is to get distracted in our everyday lives. Even when out running, my mind, body and environment had got disconnected and needed to be realigned.

In our fast paced 24/7 society, there will always be distractions. So how do you keep your focus when distractions run rampant? My top 3 suggestions would be:

1. Pay heed to your attention. Learn to recognise at an early stage that you are getting on the wrong train of thought and stop yourself from going down that route.  To do this means practicing present moment awareness – noticing what is happening in your body, mind and environment. When you notice your mind wandering gently bring it back to focus

2. Work offline. We are increasingly subjected to a constant overload of information supplemented by an insatiable appetite for digital connection. Distractions and disruptions come from a host of technology such as email, social networks, mobile phones and text alerts. Limit your time on social media, put your phone on silent and check your emails at set times.

3. Do the challenging tough work early in the morning whilst your brain is uncluttered and not overwhelmed. You will be better focused and more attentive. Social networking, responding to emails etc…do not require as much concentration and mental effort and can be slotted in later in the day

How do you minimise distractions? Does mindfulness play a role in this?  


About verawoodhead

I'm an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with managers and leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance and drive results; achieve promotion ; make successful career changes, be resilient and thrive at work. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, design learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead
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