You might be in the middle of trying to solve a complex problem or perhaps you’re tired after crunching your way through endless spreadsheets. What you need is a distraction. Now there are three main kinds of distraction: external distractions (where someone or something involuntarily interrupts you), temporary distractions (such as going off to make a cup of coffee or shopping for something on the internet) and lastly recurrent distractions.

Recurrent distractions are like parallel worlds that you can slip in and out of, almost at will.  Some recurrent distractions are referred to as hobbies but they can be much more than that. My father, for example, was fascinated by prime numbers and would happily spend hours contemplating them, flipping from his immediate reality into the world of trial divisions and prime number computations, and then back again.   The great thing about recurrent distractions is that they are always there to challenge you.

I remember when I bought my first house in Belgium, it needed a great deal of restoration. No matter what time of the day it was, my mind could instantly switch to my house and to the tiniest detail of a question that needed answering. For example; how many pegs did I need by the front door for hanging guests coats on? And then even further, right down to the type of screws that would be best to fix them securely.

I know I have my distractions but do you have yours? Are they able to distract you even when you are at home with the family or out with friends?   I believe that distractions, if self-regulated, can be good for you because they keep your brain mentally active and creative. They can also give you an additional sense of purpose, especially when everything around you seems boring and unimportant.  They can be our motivators in an otherwise dull day. However, in the wrong place, like driving a motorcar, or  giving a speech they can be either extremely dangerous or seriously annoying.

There is no doubt about it, distractions keep us interested in other things and thereby make us interesting to others. Even if they are only curious to find out what it is that we are distracted by!

Some say that a man’s main distraction is sex – and that we are distracted to that subject every fifteen seconds? Sorry to tell you, this male isn’t!  To be truthful my distraction right now is my cat, she’s been patiently waiting for some attention from me while I wrote down this blog.

Have a good week,