The Best Place To Be- and How You Might Get There.

06/24/10 Kristin

There is a place, and this place is great. This place is as serene as they come. In this place, you’re focused, motivated, intuitive… you’re on one hell of a roll. You can’t be stopped. You think you won’t be able to get the ideas down before they flee your mind like they usually do, but no worries- in this place you’re in control. Nearly everything that comes from you during this time is pure genius. You’ll look at your work later and wonder what the hell happened, and be very, very satisfied.

It’s not easy to get here, though. This place is heavily guarded.

Standing in your way are a gaggle of creatures the size of Umpa Lumpas, and they’re all screaming at you, jumping up and down, chattering away, begging for your divine attention.

You can’t ignore them, because they’re there- right in front of you. You can’t very well give each of them your full attention, either. But you know you have to pacify them somehow, or you’ll never get to this great place. What do you do?

Distract them. Trick them into thinking they’re getting exactly what they want, so you can get exactly what you want.

These barriers are the various parts of your relentless mind, also known as distractions. It’s generally said that you should clear your head of fogginess before you sit down and do real work. But for a lot of us, that’s not exactly possible.

It happens to us, so we think it probably happens to some of you, too. What to do? Well, interestingly enough, you could add…

Background noise.

Seems a little odd to add to the commotion, doesn’t it? It’s a distraction for the restless part of your mind, but it doesn’t have to be for you.

Internally, we agree that having something on in the background is like giving those little Umpa Lumpas a toy to play with while we get our work done. Some people say white noise is supposed to enhance creativity. I actually tried white noise (using Noisy) and it was interesting. I was skeptical going into the little experiment, but was surprised. While a complete distraction at first, it did turn off that song stuck on repeat in my head. On the other hand, though, I wasn’t able to switch gears from one task to another as easily. You know, the e-mail that comes through which requires immediate action, or a question from a co-worker which requires a response… While the creativity didn’t exactly come flowing from me, I’d say it was a moderately effective babysitter.

White noise isn’t going to work for everyone. Others say music works well to get/keep you in the zone… but if not that, then what? Audiobooks? Podcasts? New material? Old material? This is where our preferences split.

The great divide seems to happen with brand new content versus content we’ve already heard. Some of us prefer stuff we’ve heard a million times so we’re not tempted to listen intently. It serves as nothing more than noise- a song we know every word to, an audiobook we could recite by heart. We’re not soaking up any new information, and that’s why it works.

Alternatively, those same methods are not what works for others of us. When that familiar song comes on, our minds sing along, or we tap to the beat… more of a distraction. And when we can recite every word to that audiobook- we do. Listening to something we’ve never heard before is impossible to follow along with- and if it’s possible to hit rewind and listen again later, we’re not pressured into paying attention right at that very moment. We’re tuning out the one voice we can actually hear- and that’s why it works.

Whichever type you are, getting to “this place” is your end goal- and however backwards distracting yourself from your own distractions sounds, it’s worth a shot to get there.