Layout Image

What’s the Opposite of Distracted?

There’s a lot to be learned from opposites.  (They can also be good conversation starters: the correspondence on what’s the opposite of inspire is still running two years on.)

We tend to think of focused as being the opposite of distracted.

Clear-minded, clear on our goals, getting things done, laser sharp.

It’s quite clinical sounding isn’t it?  Doesn’t always get the creative juices flowing.

How about if the opposite was attentive?

(Which an online source tells me it is, so it must be true ;-) )

I like the thought of being attentive to my writing.


Solicitous.  Thoughtful.  Noticing the little things.  Being kind.  Appreciative.

Making time.  Making an effort.  Thinking of new ways to show how important it is.  Remembering the small things I can do that make a difference too.

Doing it with love.  Not minding.  Not complaining about it.  Doing it with love, and affection, and kindness.

Plus it’s one of those words that makes you smile as you say it.  It’s not just the old fashioned feel, it’s the way you move your mouth to say it, or is it the extra syllable…

(Or maybe that’s just me, I do have a thing about words ;-) )

In any event, I like it. Makes me feel more like something I want to do, and be.  Something I’ll happily move towards, rather than feeling bad about failing to get close to.


How about you - do you have an opposite of distracted that helps you to be if not focused, then at least attentive?

This is the fourth in a seven part series on distractions, focus and flow.

Part 1: The Holy Grail of Focus
Part 2: What Distractions Allow Us to Do: Part 1
Part 3: What Distractions Allow Us to Do: Part 2
Part 4: What’s the Opposite of Distracted?

Share on Twitter


  1. Tweets that mention What’s the Opposite of Distracted? | Confident Writing -- says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by jackiewalker, Joanna Paterson. Joanna Paterson said: What’s the Opposite of Distracted?: There’s a lot to be learned from opposites.  (They can also be good co… [...]

  2. Linda Hartley says:

    ‘Flow’ works for me, when I’m in the flow then distractions simply wash past me. Unlike my current state :-)
    .-= Linda Hartley´s last blog ..Informal learning – Canterbury and St Radigund =-.

  3. Iain Broome
    Twitter: iainbroome

    I’ll go for concentrating. As in if I’m not distracted I’m probably concentrating on something. My writing, cooking dinner, whatever. Because being distracted, to me, is what I do when I’m not doing what it is I’m supposed to be doing. Whereas if I am doing that thing, then I’m concentrating on it.

    Goodness me. What on earth am I going on about?

    Concentrating. Final answer.
    .-= Iain Broome´s last blog ..Reading at and setting up a spoken word event =-.

  4. Andrew Heaton says:


    Words do have emotion attached to them, and ones like ‘focused’ sound too much like unpleasant work to me.

    I like ‘attentive,’ and your description of it. That’s a word which produces positive images and emotions.
    .-= Andrew Heaton´s last blog ..My take on Goldman =-.

  5. jean wise says:

    I have really enjoyed this series. Reframing the word distraction in its true opposite is a great eye opener for me and one I plan on using when frustrated and distracted next time. Thank you
    .-= jean wise´s last blog ..PLAN B – Spiritual Lessons when Life is Not Fair =-.

  6. Indigo
    Twitter: sageraven

    Clarity - a sense of being with oneself, confidence and purpose. (Hugs)Indigo
    .-= Indigo´s last blog ..The Ocean In Me… =-.

  7. Meryl K Evans says:

    Y’all captured about all of my thoughts. I agree that “focused” sounds clinical and has a negative connotation about it. What about the simple “do” and there’s also alert, aware and mindful. I think I’m liking “mindful” now.
    .-= Meryl K Evans´s last blog ..Guest Post: Liven up Your Stories with Interviews =-.

  8. Barb Hartsook says:

    Hi Joanna. I love the word attentive and all it (can) attend to. Add to that intentional, and I have my distraction-fighter.

    I can be attentive and still get distracted. (It’s a relaxation form for me. Add a glass of wine, or a pen and journal, or just good walking shoes, and I can lose an hour easily — paying attention to nuances I’m often too busy to note.

    But being both attentive — as you have described — and intentional, I can get a lot accomplished. And feel really good about it when I finish. :)

    I love words! They’re just pictures, aren’t they?
    .-= Barb Hartsook´s last blog ..Life Happens in the Small Moments =-.

  9. Jeanne Dininni says:


    I like to think of the opposite of “distracted” as “engaged.” I like that word. It says so much to me!

    Thanks for sharing all your wonderful musings on this fascinating topic!

  10. Hilary says:

    Hi Joanna .. being in the now? just doing - appears not to be exciting - but achieving as we move forward by being in the now.

    Barb’s thoughts .. attentive and intentional .. are good .. add the vino & I’m distracted!

    Have a lovely weekend .. enjoying new horizons .. Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..The Okavango Delta - the perfect place to Safari or holiday? = Yes for me! Part 3/3 - Sights and sounds .. =-.

  11. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Linda it’s flow for me too… though I did like the thought of being attentive to my writing ;-)

    Iain got it, clear and simple :-)

    Andrew that’s right, we can sometimes get stuck without realising it because of the associations and negative emotions attached to language. Sometimes we can get unstuck just by changing the words.

    Jean glad you’re enjoying the series. I enjoyed discovering “attentive” as the opposite, as it seemed so playful and full of love. Definitely a positive state to write from!

  12. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Indigo I like clarity - especially the way you’ve defined it. That’s very compelling.

    Meryl mmm, I like the power and simplicity of “do”, especially the way it gets us into our bodies and out of the chatter of our minds… Mindful is also very powerful. I hope to explore the concept and practice of mindful writing some time (when I’m less distracted ;-) )

    Barb words are more like music to me, and some of them make me feel like dancing… your words are full of energy and rhythm, and make me smile… yes, intention plus attention and more power to the distraction-fighters!

  13. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    JeanneI like that choice too - “engaged” suggests bringing all of your self to your work… mind, body, heart, spirit… and that’s the way to get the words to come out powerful, heart-felt and true.

    Hilary maybe not exciting, but it’s a state so many of us crave. “being in the now” and “just doing” are good… they capture those other words too folk have suggested to, “do”, “mindful” “engaged”. Hope you had a great weekend!

  14. Jeanne Dininni says:

    Wonderful way of putting it, Joanna!

  15. Helping Your Concentration For Your Online Work | abc digital books says:

    [...] What’s the Opposite of Distracted? ( [...]