There is definite value in allowing oneself to be distracted. There’s always a reason, not always immediately clear, when I find myself unable to concentrate on a major project, or story idea, or even on a letter of condolence.
At those times, I’ve learned to be still and listen to my inner voice. Of course, what I call meditating, others may call procrastinating, but it’s important for me to wait and give my innate wisdom time to formulate thoughts and words from feelings.
The Universal Mind (yes, you may call it the Energy Source, Divine Spirit, or God if you wish) is infinitely smarter than I am, and he/she/it has a plan much better than any I could ever create on my own. My job is sit still until I the insight arrives.
A couple weeks ago I was holding off on starting a major book-editing project. By major, I’m talking 300 pages in which I needed to assess continuity, check for things left out, eliminate redundancies, and, of course, proofread for spelling, grammar and punctuation.
I printed out all 300 pages and… And there it sat. It simply wasn’t “time” to begin something of this magnitude; I just wasn’t in the mood. But instead of worrying and fretting and stewing about my lack of energy to face it, I sat down to watch an entire football game.
It was the first entire football game I’d watched in over a year, but having been raised during the Golden Age of Football (think Cowboys vs Steelers, Staubach to Dorsett, Bradshaw to Swann), I know enough about the game to call the plays and penalties ahead of the television announcers.
The Seattle Seahawks (Seattle, the land of my birth) were playing the New Orleans Saints. It was an absolutely thrilling game, and despite all odds, Seattle won!
Immediately after the game, adrenalin still pounding through me, I shut off the TV and tackled the manuscript. I set it on the dining room table and I divided it into four quarters, 75 pages each. Then, starting at first and 10, I methodically worked my way through each quarter, pausing only for food and restroom time outs.
It took the better part of three days, but once I began, I became immersed in the story and could feel, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was on top of my game. Waiting until the time was right to begin was instrumental in my outlook, and, I believe, the outcome.
The next week I had another daunting project sitting on my desk wanting my attention and I chose to go see a classic movie at the Neptune instead of immediately jumping in. Once again, the end result was quite favorable.
I amazes me how my subconscious mind remains hard at work while I distract my conscious mind from pecking incessantly, and unproductively, away at it. But the evidence is clear: cutting myself some slack and not beating myself up for being “lazy” ultimately results in a more productive and greater quality work time.
So today, when you’re stuck on a task that seems to be going nowhere—go play! Chances are, when you return, refreshed and energized, the answer to all your questions will be right there waiting.
I don’t guarantee it, but at least you’ll have had some fun!