Wednesday, August 06, 2014

"You will never reach your destination...

Don't throw stones at dogs!
"You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks." So said Winston Churchill, highlighting how easy it is to get distracted when we set out to do something!

Maybe it's just me, but there are just so many distractions that creep in to our daily lives, and which can accrue if we're not careful. It's easy to blame smartphones and social media for this, and these do seem to have introduced a whole other source of distraction, even distracting us from our sleep
"Maybe it's just me, but there are just so many distractions that creep in to our daily lives"
In the world of work I'm sure many of us can relate to the distraction value of the endless emails that keep pinging into our inbox and flashing up on our screens!

It's easy to become overloaded and distracted
In our office, we can always tell when a colleague of ours has a pressing deadline as he tends to make us all lots more cups of tea than usual! I can relate to this, and remember when I was supposed to be revising for my GCSEs making an elaborate revision timetable that took so long to complete that I was already behind schedule by the time I'd finished it!

Children and animals can also be pretty distracting can't they? A couple of times recently I've forgotten to lock the car when I get home, as it's been quite a mission getting the kids and puppy safely indoors when we get back from an outing!

Often I think we can let small distractions escalate into bad habits. As regular readers will know, we're currently fostering a guide dog puppy called Viking which is proving really rewarding (although he has added a whole new source of distraction into our lives!). 

"Often I think we can let small distractions escalate into bad habits."
While he's still so young it's important for us to get Viking into lots of positive associations as well as helping him avoid (too many) bad habits. We're not allowed to let him play with balls or chase sticks (he can have other toys though!), to reduce the chances of him being distracted as an older dog when he's working with a visually impaired owner. 

Viking loves being distracted!
Right from seven weeks old, guide dog puppies have some fun and simple tests to see how distractible they are. As I've been taking him for walks more recently, it's amazing how easily he is distracted by smells, flowers, other dogs etc. 

This is not unexpected for such a young dog, but it struck me that it's also a picture of how distracted we can sometimes be when we're trying to get somewhere or do something - as Churchill alluded to.

Sometimes we're not aware that our own distraction is affecting us - we may even think that it's someone else's problem, like the diners at a restaurant in New York who felt that the service they were getting was really slow - in fact it was the diners' own distractions that were the problem (read this!). 

This week I've been reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible and on this subject one proverb in particular struck me: 'First plant your fields, then build your barn' (Proverbs 24:27, Message translation).

One of the things with distractions is that they can affect our priorities, and sometimes we need to put first things first before moving on to the next thing. This is something that I struggle with at times as I quickly get excited about the next thing, and the next one after that! (It's my strategic-futuristic-learner-input themes pulling me on to new things, if you speak the language of Strengths Finder!).
"Sometimes we need to put first things first before moving on to the next thing."
I've learnt, however, that finishing things off is an important skill, especially at work where our client doesn't want a partially completed piece of work but the whole thing they're paying for! The old adage that the first 80% of a job takes 20% of the time, and the last 20% takes 80% of the time rings pretty true to me! And it's probably getting that last 20% done where I'm most distractible! That's the time to take stock, write a list and do all the things I suggested to Keep Calm.

Now I don't want to end this week's post on too much of a downer. I'm not saying we should all chuck our technology in the bin (not straight-away anyway) but maybe we need to have a think about our priorities and whether we really are putting first things first or not. And perhaps a detox from social media, smartphones and other distractions that bark at us might be a helpful way to start, otherwise we may find we never end up where we want to get to after all.
"I've learnt that finishing things off is an important skill!"

Thanks for taking the time to read You Will Never Reach Your Destination. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes for the audio version and much more (direct RSS feed is here). Please nominate my podcast for an award during July 2015 - press the big red button here.

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon.
The Dad Network
My Random Musings


Babyfriend said...

Hi Luke, thanks for this post. I think it could have been written just for me !
I have just had to grab myself by the scruff of the neck and give myself a sten talking to
about the 4 unfinished blog posts waiting for me.
About the book submission package waiting for me to finish 2 more chapters before I can send it
About how I spent 2 hours last night planning what I would do with a lottery win (because I was avoiding the previously mentioned unfinished work.....the list goes on but you get the gist.
I have a wonderful, exciting plan to change my life but there is so much to do, so many things to learn first, and such self discipline needed that I am getting more and more easily distracted.
I have started making lists now, prioritising properly and finishing one thing before I move on to the next....but it is not easy as beng distracted is so easy and so much fun.
I just have to remind myself that nothing feels as good as the sense of achievement I feel when I tick something off my list and move a little nearer to my goal.
Achievement, however small, can become a addictive as distraction :-)
Thanks again form the post,
Sarah x

Luke Strickland said...

Thanks Sarah - really glad it connected with you, and I know the feeling about having an epic to-do list!! Thanks for dropping by... Luke

Lady Nym said...

I used to have a t-shirt that read 'Easily Distracted' as a young teen. It was very true. It also caused a creepy bus driver to misread it as 'Easily Attracted' and waggle his eyebrows at me but I think including that information is me getting distracted...

Anyway, thanks for sharing.


Luke Strickland said...

Haha! My sister once embroidered her name Tasha on the back of a denim jacket, expect that people kept misreading it and shouting "Tosho" at her! Thanks for dropping by :)

Martyn Kitney said...

Such a fantastic post and one that totally resonates with me! My mind is often a mess and subsequently I find myself losing focus and being distracted. I usually start small when I'm like that and work towards bigger things. Thanks for linking up with us on the #bigfatlinky hope to see you there this week

Luke Strickland said...

Thanks Martyn, glad it connected - will definitely be linking up again this week!

Random Musings said...

This post definitely relates to me. I try to stay focused at work, but when I'm at home writing, I tend to have about 6 internet tabs open, plus my phone beside me and I flit from tab to tab taking nothing in, responding to text and emails and generally getting nowhere. I have started allocating writing time where I close all tabs and just have the thing I'm writing open to avoid distractions. Still can't part with my phone yet though lol!
Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes (sorry it's taken so long, busy week!)

Luke Strickland said...

Thanks Debbie!