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Besting Our Distractions

It's Tuesday, January 30th, and I've typed seven words in just under an hour. While trying to type this newsletter I've successfully ordered a necklace on Amazon, used the restroom twice, refilled my coffee, called both of my parents, browsed the "fun socks" page on Penguin's website, and even read three articles about how to overcome distractions.

As you might have gleaned, I write the messages I need the most.

Most people would agree that we have become a distracted society in the last two decades. While correlation doesn't mean causation, I also believe most people would attribute the rise in distractedness to our relationship with our smart phone.

Improving our ability to focus and overcome distractions is an increasingly important skill. Here is what we know:

The opposite of distraction isn't focus, it's traction.

Traction is any action that pulls you toward what you want to accomplish. Distraction is anything that takes you away. We should recognize and categorize activities in our lives using these two buckets.

We can be pulled towards task by internal and external factors.

External factors consist of "dings, pings, and rings," as author Nir Eyal states it. These are dangerous distractors, but don't hold a candle to internal triggers. Eyal tells us that most often distractions are simply displacing internal feelings of discomfort and that to find traction we have to find ways to cope with that discomfort.

Knowing this information lays the first bricks to building our walls to keep our distractions in our lives. Call out distracting behaviors, decipher if the root is internal or external, and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Life is too short to live distracted. Beat your distractions and bring the best of life into focus.


Set aside time for your biggest distraction. Enjoy a game on your phone? Schedule 20 minutes for it this week. Planned time is not wasted time.


What is your most frequent distraction? Is it driven by external or internal factors?


“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” - Winston S. Churchill

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