Is distraction the enemy of productivity?

As someone inclined to look up from my writing desk when anyone passes my second story window, to make tea, coffee and snacks multiple times a day, to pee more frequently than my ageing bladder demands, to peruse the Facebook photos of complete strangers I’ve allowed one degree of separation to approve: I have given much thought to this question.

When my office job became a cubicle job, i.e. when the Government in its efficiency-seeking wisdom determined walls should be linked to status not job demands, my ADD self thought it had arrived at a party. Guilt-ridden, paranoid of being monitored me waggled a finger at power, and said  “You expect me to read, analyze and write under these conditions?” Why not set me up at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas Streets in downtown Toronto and ask me to write a briefing note?

Lucky I’m a competent writer able, with relative ease, and little effort, to pull public language out of my brain through layers of distraction. Thanks God!

Over the years I’ve wondered: what country would I be running, what mind-blowing essays would I have produced, what world-altering device would I have wrought were it not for distraction?

But after beating myself up over the course of this adult life for shoving my cockeyed peg into a series of lopsided holes, I landed on the more important question:

Who would I be without the distraction?

I am the distraction and the distraction is me. Like a tree, torqued, twisted and still flowering through steel or stone, I’ve adapted and grown around both the distractions I create and those I encounter. And there’s no separating my adaptation from me.

I’m not suggesting organized, focused, steady and un-distractable people lack creativity. I’m only aware that, if I could take some drug that allowed you to walk by my window without my checking to see who was there, the essence of me would be lost.

This is not merely an excuse for my messy house, forgotten bills, and unrequited fantasies of paper-less surfaces, although it makes a fine one.

I’ve concluded that, while distraction can be an enemy of productivity, it is, for me at least, creativity's best friend.  You see my dilemma.





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