Distractions are terrible, am I right? I mean, you’ve just settled down into a groove and suddenly a song comes on the radio that you really like and you find yourself singing along and finding yourself unable to focus on the spreadsheet you were working on or you lose your train of thought on that TPS report (thanks Office Space). If you don’t know that I’m sarcastic by now, you haven’t read enough of my blogs. I love distractions. Not only do I choose not to avoid them but I choose to face them head on. And here’s why.

First, you can’t always avoid distractions. Sometimes you’re in a place or with a person or in a situation that just lends itself to distractions. Maybe your office has cubicles instead of offices and you have no privacy. Maybe you’re meeting at a coffee shop. Maybe the radio is on at your office and you can’t tell Milton to turn it down because he’s been told that he’s allowed to listen to his radio at an acceptable level (thanks again Office Space). Whatever the reason, you don’t always get to remove distractions. So I’ve decide to boycott the boycotting of distractions. When I really want to get work done I put on a movie or a tv show or some music or whatever. I sit in very public places with lots of foot traffic and lots of people having totally unrelated conversations. And you know what? I get things done.

By superimposing yourself over the distractions you’re basically saying “you have no power over me”. There’s a ton of research about distractions in the office place, about how it takes you 15 minutes to recover from a subverted train of thought and other variations of the same basic premise. That premise? We are useless at being people and working at the same time. However, I disagree. When I wrote my novel (possibly the biggest accomplishment of my life) I did so while watching a steady stream of films. My mind, like most people’s, tends to wander. So instead of trying to tie it down, I had an epiphany. What if I just filled my life with things to get distracted by?

I think back of the first time I ever watched An Evening With Kevin Smith. While talking about his self deprecating brand of humor, he lays it out like this. “I just figured that if I said I was fat, before people could make the joke about my weight they’d go, ‘well, he knows already…hmmm’ “. In doing so, Kevin Smith took the power away from his detractors. He admitted right from the opening kickoff that he was an overweight man and challenged you to make a better joke than he already had. This is my plan with work and distraction.

The other day, my best friend texted me and asked me what I was up to. My answer?Watching a movie, writing a blog post, doing some web development work and listening to a talk on 99u. He laughed not because he thought that I was joking but because he knew that I wasn’t.

Sure, there are times when I sit quietly and read. Sometimes I just write. Sometimes I just watch a movie (although not very often). But by becoming my own distraction, I’ve taken the power away from it. It means that when it’s crunch time and I need to get work done and I don’t have that perfect environment, my sound proof, windowless cage complete with locking doors and no StumbleUpon, I’m golden.

Want to get started? Here’s my recommendation. Start listening to 99u, TED, or a podcast of your choosing while you work. Continue to add further distractions until you can’t get things done and then take a very small step back. That’s your prime mental working real estate.

Hey, look over there.