You know what’s weird? When we really want to do things, but we don’t do them. What is that all about?
I’m reading “Turning Pro” by Steven Pressfield. And if you’ve ever read any of his books you know he does not sugar coat things. He gets right to the root of why we aren’t actually doing what we truly want to be doing. No matter if it’s creative work, a workout plan, or any other thing we set out to do.
The book is broken up into sections about different reasons we avoid doing what’s important to us, and one of them is called: ADDICTED TO DISTRACTION.
These simple words really struck me:
“Have you checked your email in the last half hour? When you sit down to work, do you leave your web connection on? It can be fatal, keeping up with the Kardashians.”
I realized, when it comes to doing the work that is important to me…I am addicted to distractions.
This month, I’ve been publishing a blog every single day. It’s a bold move, but it’s definitely not impossible. (I did it last year too, deemed it unnecessary, and did it again. HUMANS!!!)
The problem? Every single night, I’ve been pressing the publish button at 11:59pm.
I’m keeping my integrity with myself and following through, but I’m always waiting until the very last minute, and it’s affecting my sleep habits, my stress levels, and more. It’s also kind of an insult to my inner writer. Like I won’t give it the chance to come out at all during the day. Kinda rude.
I noticed that when I sit down to write, distractions are everywhere. My email inbox is open. My phone is on the table next to me. There are multiple browser tabs open and sometimes I’ll think of something and start researching, or order something on Amazon, or look at plane tickets.
Sometimes I’ll think of a certain meal I’ve been meaning to cook, and I’ll literally get up and go to the grocery store in the middle of my writing session to get that one sweet potato or head of butter lettuce that I “need.”
I’ll answer the phone and talk to a friend for an hour about their latest romantic conquest (which I love hearing about, of course) – but it’s happening during the exact hour I’ve blocked out for writing.
I usually don’t even NOTICE when I pick up the phone and refresh instagram. It’s a reflex.
Yes, this is part of the difficulty of being self-employed, but it’s also an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to practice something different. I’ll be honest, the way I’ve been behaving when it comes to resisting my writing until late at night is bugging the crap out of me.
Joel sent me this article the other day written by James Clear about the “Akrasia Effect” – and it’s incredibly interesting – highly worth a read. “Akrasia” means the state of acting against your better judgement.
In the article, he talks about an author named Victor Hugo who had a book deadline. He spent an entire year procrastinating on writing the book and being distracted by other things. In order to get himself to write it, he got rid of all of his clothes and locked them away, and since he couldn’t go outside without clothes, he was forced to stay in and write. SERIOUSLY!!! That honestly doesn’t sound that drastic to me, believe it or not, I understand it. Because the struggle of being addicted to distractions is incredibly, INCREDIBLY challenging.
I’ll do anything that distracts me from writing, even though my one goal of the day is to publish a blog and finish another module of my e-book.
I’ll do anything that distracts me from working out even though feeling strong and fit and healthy is one of my top priorities.
WHY THE HECK DO WE DO THIS?
Well the article I mentioned has some great tips about this, and about how the human brain prefers instant gratification to long-term future gratification. Makes sense. Here’s another related article about delaying gratification and how that can lead to success. Give it a read, there are good tips in there.
For me, a few things that I know help me stop my addiction to distraction when it comes to doing my work (writing):
- Deciding that what I want to do is a non-negotiable for the day, and picking a specific time to do it.
- Turning off my wifi connection and closing all browser tabs when I sit down to work on a writing project
- Turning my phone on airplane mode or putting it in the other room
- Having food in the house that I can eat while I’m working (if I’m working at home) or a plan of what I’m going to eat and where, so I don’t get distracted by hunger and just get up and leave to find a meal
- Not scheduling anything else too close to the time I want to be done with the project — block out more time than I think I need (i.e. if I think a writing project/blog will take 1 hour to complete it will probably actually take 3 hours)
- Keeping a list of things that pop into my mind, i.e. ordering something on Amazon or looking at flights or deciding if I want to become a certified aromatherapist or Googling the meaning of life, and not doing those things until my writing project is done.
- I sometimes take Alpha Brain (lately Alpha Brain drink mix) or Brain Octane (sometimes both at once, shhhh), and it seems to help me a lot with focus. This is not intended to be medical advice or a suggestion, this is just what I’m experimenting with.
Concentration and focus are the opposite of distraction. Anything that can increase your chances of being able to concentrate and focus will help ease the distractions.
But we have to set ourselves up for focus and concentration. We can’t just assume because we say we’ll get our writing done (or whatever our goal is) that we won’t get distracted. We have to plan for it carefully and we have to set up barriers against the distractions.
Do you relate to this?
Do you find yourself addicted to distractions and acting against your better judgement?
Is this hindering you from completing your most important goals in a way that feels good?
Even if you are completing your goals, do you feel like you’re barely scraping by on them or not giving them the focus they deserve?
What works for you to keep your concentration and focus? Let’s share tips.
And once again, I publish a blog at 11:59. I have issues. I’d like to make the process of working towards my goals more fun and more supportive of how I want to feel every day, instead of just making it happen because I said I would.
How can we make the process of achieving our dreams more fun, joyous and supportive of how we want to feel? :)
Love you guys so much,