Sunday, March 15, 2009


We have to admit - there are far too many distractions in our personal world today compared to our forefathers'. There are far too many distractions often disguised as things that we should attend to as soon as possible or we might forget to do them later. These are what I call nominal distractions.

Nominal distractions are a little tricky. They are certainly not bad; they are merely your day-to-day chores that often need immediate attention. For example, the little spot over there needs cleaning; the table is too dusty; the strands of hair gathered at the corner of the room is disturbing me; the laptop is greasy and needs wiping; the room is too humid - I need to put up the curtain and open the window; oh, the flower pot at the balcony is falling over - I need to prop it up; oh dear me, I forgot to put the clothes to wash - I need to do so before the sky turns dark and rains... and the list of nominal things to do goes on and on and on - until we put a firm feet on the ground and say "Enough is enough!"

Then there are the "thin-line" distractions. Again, they are not easy to identify. They are often disguised as things that seem important, especially in the area of relationship building, but without giving serious thoughts to our options and weighing the consequences, they can actually take us away from what we actually need to be doing at a given moment. For example, you should be finishing up your work but you go out for coffee with your friends; you should be spending time with your family but you go out for a movie, you should be attending to the huge pile of bills but you go for a spin in your best friend's new Harley, you should be doing your research but you download an endless stream of podcasts, checks out your Facebook, posts entries on your blog and fire away your numerous tweets on Twitter. You know what I mean.

So how do we deal with these seemingly harmless distractions which are really taking away from us precious time that could be put to better and more efficient use? The answer, though an obvious one, requires a great deal of effort to execute. The answer is "Focus". Duh, you may say. After all, isn't the opposite of "distraction", "focus"? Yes, but what makes "focus" achievable? I believe there are 3 important elements to eliminate our impertinent need to be distracted by nominal and thin-line distractions and focus our efforts on what really needs doing. They are Consciousness, Discipline and Action (CDA).

Consciousness - You need to remind yourself aloud that there are bound to be things that your eyes will catch notice of, that will distract you from what you intend to do. You got to be conscious of the distractive environment that you live in, and make a conscious, firm and cold decision not to succumb to those distractions, no matter how urgent or important they may seem.

Discipline - You will notice that "discipline" falls in between "consciousness" and "action". Discipline is the crucial point where you hold your ground and brave through the storm of distractions. Your eye catches note of something, your head turns in the direction of the object, your heart softens at the thought of the feeling of pleasure and satisfaction once the obejct of your distraction has been attended to, but your head is firmly stuck to your neck and you refuse to budge or move from where you are to attend to the beckoning distraction. Well done!

Action - Now, action plan. Once you have braved through both the conscious and discipline stages, you keep your eyes, head, heart and mind on what you need to be doing. You keep keeping at it until the distraction fades way. Distractions are like flies. They are attracted to food. Once you shield your food (things you are meant to do) with a cover (CDA), the flies disperse.

May you find greater efficiency in your work and productivity with your time in the coming days!

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