We all face distractions through the day. At work, home, during conversations, during sports and at church. For companies and government offices this can amount to a great deal of time and productivity loss as well as profits. We can even find, after minutes of driving, that we don’t remember the moments just gone by, nor the places or traffic around us during our “distracted blackout”.
“Drifting” is normal as thoughts wander through our minds. As long as these do not keep us from what we should be doing there isn’t too much to worry about. It becomes a problem when it prevents us from focussing. Focussing can be difficult for many. And with the advent of the smart phone, we can be quite easily led away from work with constant checking of the apps for updates in social media. I was offered advice by a friend some years ago, that if I could focus, I could do some wonderful things. It was very good advice and I took it. I stopped spreading myself too thin with too many projects and ideas and being distracted in the middle of each one with an idea to start on the next. Focus became necessary and I was able to finish one project at a time and well.
When we face these momentary distractions and we realise that the new thought is important, why not jot it down to deal with later? Once on paper or in a smart phone app to remind us later, we can let go of it and get back to the task in progress. If we sit at a computer for lengthy periods of time a pad of paper could be set on the desk for these jottings. Perhaps having a programme open in the background like Evernote, OneNote, etc., and which permits rapid access to “jot down” our thoughts as they come to us or things we realise we need to do later.
Something I am frequently asked is how to focus at Mass. Any church service can become routine. That is what a liturgy is – a routine prescribed by the Church to celebrate the sacraments. How can we focus if we become distracted at Mass then? It may be in better preparation, even before heading to the church. If we prepare ourselves and are present in advance of the event, we are more likely to be attentive and be less inclined to boredom. Some ideas:
- read through the Scripture readings in advance for that day or Sunday before going
- pray to be attentive when these Scriptures are read aloud for the congregation
- if people are talking and being a distraction politely ask them to stop
- if the people around you are distracting then it may be better to move to another pew
- take notes during the homily/sermon
If we are truly interested in what we are attending we will be less distracted. Re-evaluate why you are doing what you are doing and if required to be there – like work or Sunday Mass – then make every effort to remain “in the moment” and not to wander. Most things we are attending are for our benefit, so we need to see how we can take part in these activities for the greatest good of ourselves or our employers. And at Mass – to remember that we are in the Divine Presence.
Perhaps we have forgotten the supernatural in our lives. If we can re-capture this and divinise (make holy) our work and activities we will work better and live better. Less distraction, more focus, will result in happier employers and happier employees. And those at Mass will be less distracted – less bored. Prepare well, attend and work well. Better lives and better results will naturally ensue.