ABOUT Distractions

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NOTE: If you have not read The Dynamics of Attending, the article below will have greater impact if you do that first.

Monkey Minds — The Dilemma of Distractability

(c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Intentional Attending Series – all rights reserved

A cartoon monkey climbing a tree trunk, attention elsewhere - obviously distracted

All distractions are interruptions, but
all interruptions are NOT distractions.

Distinction: disruption vs disturbance

An interruption is a momentary disturbance in the projected flow of a physical or mental activity that creates a break in continuity for a relatively brief interval.

Inherent in the definition is the assumption that concentration will return to the interrupted activity, if appropriate, implying that the control of one’s focus is volitional – a factor of the “will-power” of the individual who has been interrupted.

distraction, on the other hand, is a disruption of an individual’s concentrated attention upon a chosen object of focus. The distinction between the two otherwise similar events is that a distraction is intrusive: it prevents effective operation of the first and third of the three Dynamics of Attending:

  • focusing on the intended object
  • sustaining the focus

As long as the second dynamic – shifting focus at will – operates efficiently, “one quick interruption” remains so.  Most people can get back on track effectively as long as the “distracting” event is not pervasive or repetitive.

Ay, there’s the rub!

Different Strokes

Everybody has difficulty with intentionality of focus sometimes – interruptions and distractions are part and parcel of life in this highly industrialized, densely populated, crazy-busy century.

While frustrating, the negative impact on the ability to plan for the most effective use of time is relatively minor, and the resulting ability to return quickly to task is generally within the bounds of acceptable performance expectations.

For those with Executive Functioning Disorders, including many ADDers, distractibility is chronic and pervasive, happening many times throughout each day – often many times throughout most hours of the day.

Carried over the threshold

A low “distractibility threshold” (meaning it doesn’t take much to distract you), a common complaint for a great many ADDers, can be attributed to an impairment in the brain’s ability to selectively filter out unrelated stimuli (i.e., inconsequential, irrelevant or unwanted sensory or cognitive information).

A low distractibility threshold can be the result of a combination of a number of factors, but they can be grouped into three main categories:

  • the absence of sufficient ability to direct attention at will; whether organic and permanent, a product of cognitive or intellectual developmental level, or a temporary impairment due to stress, illness, or any number of reasons
  • the absence of a compelling enough inducement to direct attention in a specific manner: i.e., boredom or an insufficient arousal level produced or inspired by a particular object of focus, relative to an individual’s stimulation threshold
  • the presence of competition for focus and attention: i.e., the intensity, novelty or attractiveness of competing stimuli, internal or external.

Attentional Alchemy: Turning Can’t into CAN

A comprehensive understanding of all of the components of the single term, Attention,” is essential if you plan to be able to work around attentional deficits, whether for an upgrade of your own functioning, or the functioning of clients or loved ones.

In a series of articles to come, I will “unpack” the various concepts that are included and implied by the points above, along with introducing more than a few more.

Stay tuned — life can be so much better once you learn HOW to become intentional with your attending.

As they become available, you will find related posts by clicking the following categories (on the lower, lighter gray menubar above) :

A. Hopefully Helpful — 5. Tips, Tricks & Techniques —  a. Attention & Focus
A. Hopefully Helpful — 5. Tips, Tricks & Techniques —  g. Distractions & Transitions
G. From my Books — 5. The Optimal Functioning eBook Series — b. The Challenges Inventory
G. From my Books — 5. The Optimal Functioning eBook Series — d. Intentional Attending
G. From my Books — 5. The Optimal Functioning eBook Series — j. Transition Tamer

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

17 Responses to ABOUT Distractions

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  14. Julianne says:

    Awesome pɑge, Maintain the great work. Tɦanks a lot!

    url: pharmtrace-clinical.com/php.php?a%5B%5D=Full+Report+-+%3Ca+href%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fstorify.com%2Fshop%2Ffollowing%3Evisit+this+web-site%3C%2Fa%3E%2C


    • Thanks Julianne. I appreciate the kind words and any help getting the word out to others that this information is helpful, and available at no charge.

      Your link (reproduced below your comment and removed from the heading) goes to a PHP page rather than a website, so I cannot help your inbound links by allowing it to be “clickable.”

      Sorry – the policy is designed to minimize link spam. Next time you comment, check the link first.



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