That one thing
Removing distractions from the outside does nothing if the distractions are within.
There is one thing that my mind keeps going back to at least a hundred times a day. When I’m cycling along a canal and notice something on the street, my mind makes an association to it. When I’m reading something on my laptop, my mind makes an association to it. When I’m watching some movie, the same thing happens.
If you observe your own thoughts over a period of a day or a week, or longer, you will notice a similar thing happening to you. There is one thing that your mind makes most associations to during your waking hours.
This is a sign that we are preoccupied with this problem or this topic a lot of the time. Sure, when we are involved in other tasks, we are focused on it and that takes our mind off this. But, given some leeway and free time, the mind keeps coming back to this.
It is ideal for this thing that we are preoccupied with all the time to be related to what we are working on at the moment. For me, I’d love for it to be something related to the plot of a story I’m working on or a feature that I’m building in my product. But that isn’t always the case.
And when it isn’t, it is a signal for me to take care of whatever it is and get it out of the way so that my focus can come back to the things I want it to be on.
All the productivity techniques and routines that you can follow will be like forcing a kid that wants to play the piano to a computer programming class, or the other way around. The effect and results will be well below par.
First thing to do is to align this one thing that occupies our mind most of the time to something that we want to be working on.
And we can do that by removing everything else that the mind keeps worrying about or going back to. In order to remove those from the head, they need to be taken to a conclusion, or at least, we must be actively working towards removing them. Else, our minds notice the inaction on that front and make it harder to focus on anything else.
First ensure that what your mind is preoccupied with is what you want to work on, and then think about ways to improve productivity. Removing distractions from the outside does nothing if the distractions are within.
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