Distraction is the bane of creative work. If you find yourself drawn away from your work, you aren’t alone. It is nearly impossible to avoid distractions in our 24/7 world. If you wish to accomplish your goals, you must radically take charge of your environment. Stop wasting time and start making moves.
A Culture of Distraction
With the advent of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, it is extremely easy to get sidetracked when you sit down for creative work. Instead of sitting down and writing a blog post, finishing a song, or designing a new product, we often cycle through Facebook, opening and closing the app, just to open it again. It’s sad. Our collective attention span has dramatically decreased.
Resistance = Importance
The more important something is to complete, the more our mind will fight against it–coming up with reasons not to do it or inventing new distractions to take us away. Our mind is often afraid of change, even good change. When we are working on something truly life-changing, our minds are terrified. Much like how pros deliver on consistency and create daily practices to achieve their goals, pros also know that the harder their mind resists a task, the more important it is. The Resistance, tagged by Stephen Pressfield in his masterpiece, The War of Art, is a formidable enemy that needs to be overcome with brute force of will and might. As creators, we need to wrestle with the voice telling us to switch tasks, or scroll through our feeds. We need to stay focused with laser precision on our work until it is ready to go out into the world.
Urgency ≠ Importance
In our 24/7 world, a distinction must be made between what is urgent, and what is important. Important items drive us to our goals, whether personally, financially, creatively. Urgent items demand our immediate attention, despite their importance to our goals. Urgency is very deceptive, especially in the digital age. Group messages, push notifications, and instant communication create a veil that the urgent is important. Your Facebook messages can wait. You can reply to that email in a few hours. You can mute the notifications for that group chat (my favorite tactic), and read through the new messages at a later time. Very seldom are our urgent matters also important. They are mostly convenient, not for us, but for others. By brushing off the urgent to focus on the important, we can experience uninterrupted streams of flow.
Distraction Killers Checklist
- Place your phone in a separate room while you do your work. The world will not end if you are unreachable for 3 hours. Seldom are emergencies actually emergencies. Remove the tendency to check your phone by removing it entirely.
- Install News Feed Eradicator on your computer. Remove your tendency to scroll through Facebook by disabling your news feed entirely. News Feed Eradicator is a Chrome app that will replace your Facebook feed with a quote about time-management. It’s effective.
- Take breaks, and relax fully when not working. Stress and recovery is vital for performance. A candle that burns twice as bright lasts half as long. Take a break from your creation, and peace the hell out. Relax, listen to music, play a game. The more you can relax between sprints, the more stamina and focus you can achieve while on the grind. Do not feel guilted into working all the time.
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