How Distraction Hurts Creativity

How Distraction Hurts Creativity

Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?

– Marcus Aurelius

It’s fairly difficult to create when you’re reading a blog or forum or tweeting or sending an email or chatting. In fact, it’s almost impossible to do these things and create at the same time.

Oh look – A pretty butterfly….

Sure, you can switch back and forth, so that you’re creating and engaging in any of these activities of consuming and communicating. We’ve all done that.

How effective is that? When we switch between creating and communicating through email, say, we lose a little bit of our creative time, a little bit of our creative attention, each time we switch. The mind must switch between modes, and that takes time. As a result, our creative processes are slowed and hurt, just a little, each time we switch.

Here’s the catch: Creating is a completely separate process from consuming and communicating.

They don’t happen at the same time. We can switch between them, but again, we’re hurting both processes as we do that.

All the reading and consumption of information we do, all the communicating we do, and all the switching between modes we do — it all takes away from the time we have to create.

We should note that communicating and consuming information aren’t necessarily evil to the person who creates: they actually help. We shouldn’t throw them out completely. Communicating with others allows us to collaborate, and that actually multiplies our creative power.

When you communicate and collaborate, you bounce ideas off people, get ideas from things they say, learn from each other, combine ideas in new and exciting ways, build things that couldn’t be possible from one person.

When you consume information, you’re helping your creativity as well — you find inspiration in what others have done, you get ideas, you gather the raw materials for creating.

But consuming and communicating aren’t creating. They aid creating and lay the groundwork, but at some point we need to actually sit down and create. Or stand up and create. But create.

Focus, Distraction and Happiness

Quiet and solitude and reflection lead to greater happiness when they’re a part of our daily lives, at least in some degree.

There’s more to focus and distraction than just creating, though. Constant connectivity and distractions, and a lack of focus, can affect our peace of mind, our stress levels, and our happiness. In the days when computers took up only part of our lives, there were times when we could get away from them, when we were disconnected from the grid. Unfortunately, many people still filled much of that time with watching television, which isn’t much better.

But it’s important to get away from these constant distractions — we need some quiet, some time to reflect and contemplate, some time for solitude. Without it, our minds are constantly bombarded by information and sensations, unable to rest. That constantly stresses our minds in ways we’re not meant to handle.

We need the rest. It’s important in ways we don’t often think about. We need to de-stress, and we need to recharge our mental batteries.

Quiet and solitude and reflection lead to greater happiness when they’re a part of our daily lives, at least in some degree.

What you do during this time — read, write, run, nap, sit, watch, listen, even have a quiet conversation, play, study, build — isn’t as important as the simple fact of having that time of disconnection.

Yours in delicious disconnection,

Holsters and hearts

Mindy ~ The Goddess of Healing

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