Distractions are ubiquitous, subtle and insidious. They have a way of stealing your attention without you realizing it, for weeks, months, or even years at a time. I am not trying to be hyperbolic.

Any time you are distracted, your thinking is unconsciously shallow and limited. Distractions can be obvious, like being fully engrossed in a video game or movie. Or they can be subtle like having the radio on in the background.

I find that any time I have any kind of distraction, I can’t be fully creative and strategic in my thinking.

This became blindingly obvious to me on my commutes to work when I lived in Newport and drove to Los Angeles every day. Sometimes I would listen to audio books on the drive, and sometimes I would not listen to anything. When I had the radio or audio books playing in the background, I would rarely have a deep insight or creative thought. Conversely, almost every time I turned off all of the distractions interesting thoughts or ideas would bubble up. This deep thinking has enabled me to become much more effective in my life.

Any time you have to make an important decision or you want to think strategically, I would highly recommend you eliminate every distraction. Put away the cell phone. Turn off the TV and radio. Sit in a quiet room with nobody and nothing around except you, a desk, and a blank piece of paper for capturing your thoughts.

This is going to feel so uncomfortable when you do it that your mind will scream for entertainment and distraction. Resist the urge to give in if you don’t have an insight right away. Sit there and wait. The vision or strategy or next move will come to you.