The Creative Process and Eight Major Distractions

Are you easily distracted? Distractions can wreak havoc with your creative process. People, places and objects can easily distract you from your creative process. I’m certain that if you think for just a minute, you can come up with at least two immediate distractions that regularly interrupt your creative process. Are you checking your email several times a day? Does a friend call you before a major deadline? Do your thoughts wander during yet another business meeting? Below, I’ve listed a few common sources of distraction. Please keep in mind, that there is nothing bad or wrong about distractions, they are a normal part of life. If you can keep your distractions under control, then your creative process won’t suffer. If you can’t, then you will have to find better way to work with your creative process and your distractions.

MEDIA: Radio, television, cell phones, newspapers and yes, computers can be helpful to a point. Like anything else, though, they distract you from real life. Take a step back and review your use of media, when you are working. Make a list of the most distracting types of media that you encounter. Choose one type and began to consciously set limits on how much you use it. Eventually work toward planning media-free or media-limited days. Put the media type to work for you and your creative process, rather than the other way around. Put the next distracting type through the same process until your creative process becomes more balanced and less prone to distraction.

PETS: I am a pet owner of two personable, companion parakeets. I know that necessary care, feeding and socializing with your pets is vital. I also know that your pet routines can become a distraction. Remember, that your pets will always want to be the center of attention, no matter how much your have trained them. It’s in their very nature to want to spend time with you. It’s important that you to establish and maintain a consistent care schedule for them. Teach them to respect your non-pet time as much as possible. Keep on loving them so that they don’t feel as if you have neglected them. If possible, Let them join in your creative process as much as you can. My birds like to watch me work with my beads. They would probably eat them, if I gave them half a chance. They put up a major fuss, if I don’t show them my finished pieces. I include them in my creative process, without putting them in harms’ way, if they should swallow a bead. Finding a mate for your pet can be a real gift to them. Having a mate usually makes life more fun for both of your pets and sometimes noisier too. They can play more, interact more and keep each other company, especially when you are away working on your creative process. Having a mate also reassures your pet, which you aren’t going to abandon them when you plan be away from them for awhile.

EMAIL: It’s wonderful to chat and work via email. It’s also very easy for email to draw you away from your creative process. Just to see if this might be the case for you, tomorrow, check off how many times you check your email inbox. Just jot down how many times you check your email inbox. At the end of your work day, total the number. If your total is more than three times, then you really need to evaluate how often you sign on. Ideally checking your email three times a day, is appropriate when you are doing business via the internet. If you are using email just for personal reasons, then checking your email twice a day should be enough. Declare email-free days or hours so that you can take a break from your computer and creative process. Make sure to notify friends and clients when you are going on your free email days. Remember that you can apply this same strategy to handling your voice mail, instant messaging and chat room sessions. too

MIND CLUTTER: If a recurring thought keeps nagging you, during your creative process, then write the information on an index card, or the next available blank piece of paper. At your next break, schedule some time in your planner to address that issue. Write down enough information to jog your memory. Your thoughts deserve your time and attention, but not at the expense of your daily work. You now should be able to return to your creative process.

NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS: Admitting and identifying negative thoughts or patterns that interfere with completing your creative process can be very helpful. Some of the more obvious ways that negativity reveals itself are through: sarcasm, criticism and comparing and competing with yourself or others. Indulging in these kinds of behaviors won’t help your creative process and may even hinder your work relationships If this any of these areas are problematic for you, then choose just one difficult person and deliberately work at being kind, courteous and respectful of them for five minutes a day. Praying for good stuff to come into their lives also helps diffuse some of the negativity. Keep this up, until you start seeing some positive changes, either in yourself or in the other person. Keep you other eye on your creative work and see what changes begin to take place there, too.

OTHER PEOPLE: Living with children, roommates and elderly relatives can be major source of distraction. I’m not suggesting that you become a hermit or leave your family behind. I’m just pointing out that one of the downsides of living with others, is that everyone has the potential to be distract everyone else at some point during the any part of the day, just by their very presence. I would suggest that you plan to work, if possible, during the least noisy times. If you need to work in the library or somewhere else then do so. Also, when you are working and other people are around, remember to clearly communicate your boundaries and reinforce them regularly. Other people need and appreciate their own space, peace and quiet, too.

SCHEDULE CHANGES: I become fussy when my plans change. I use up more energy and resources complaining about the change in plans, instead of readjusting to the new changes. Cultivating flexibility about scheduling and other changes, will decrease their distracting effect on your creative process. If you find yourself with extra time between appointments or a delay, due to traffic or someone else’s lateness, take control of the situation and put it to use toward your creative work. You will be glad that you did.

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS’ REACTIONS AND OPINIONS: Sometimes significant others the most to you, can speak or act in a ways that can be very distracting. They may distract you indirectly or directly. They may be less than supportive of a major deadline, or want to chat with you, when you need to concentrate. Unless you have always lived alone, I think that you will be able to figure out what distracts you the most about your favorite people. It’s important that you communicate your expectations about distractions very clearly with your significant other. Make sure to that both of you have a clear understanding of what you both need while you are creating. Finding a way that works for both of you, will support your work and send a kinder message to your significant other. When you take that first communication step, then you open the door for positive change to happen.

IGNORING BASIC NEEDS: Finally, proper self-care energizes you and causes you to be feel good about yourself and your creative process. Whether you need to tune-up your exercise routine, switch from caffeine to juice or plan a long afternoon nap. Figure out what you are forgetting and put it back into your regular schedule. Ignoring proper self-care, can cause you multiple delays, frustration and distraction from your creative process.

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