AVOID DISTRACTIONS

Photo Credit: RawPixel

I have two big obstacles between myself and zen-like productivity. The first is the same fear of failure/success that everyone deals with when trying to accomplish anything more than brushing their teeth. The second and probably bigger challenge is the endless list of distractions on any given day. Both issues lead to procrastination, followed by the stress of a looming deadline.

I write about distractions quite a bit because I feel there’s no one answer to the problem. You can go offline, turn off your notifications, or arrange your tasks to find your happy little productive place but I think you’re always going to face distractions even if they’re very welcome ones such as spending time with family.

So what the fuck can be done about distractions anyway? Doesn’t it depend on the type of distraction and what we’re doing at the time? What if we’re working too hard and need that distraction to reset our head? Not much, yes, and that’s fair.

The best answer I can give you is to isolate yourself from as many distractions as possible. Instead of working from home, go to a coffee shop and don’t ask for the Wi-Fi password. Instead of multi-tasking, turn off your email and phone, and those sounds for some decent headphones and instrumental music.

Practice the art of controlled tunnel vision. Normally, tunnel vision is a shitty little gremlin that keeps us from seeing the big picture, but when you need to get something done, he can be your best friend (if properly trained).

Give yourself some unbreakable rules that come with irritating punishments when you inevitably break them. For example, if your rule is to write for an hour straight without checking Facebook and then you check it anyway, no coffee tomorrow morning. If your rule is to finish a task by a certain date and that date passes, you have to give a friend (or better yet, a charity) twenty bucks. These rules and punishments shouldn’t be things that ruin your life. You don’t want to set a rule that missing your target means you have to sell your car, but maybe having to wear your friend’s opposing-team jersey for a week would give you some motivation.

It’s all about personal accountability and the practice of self-control. Eventually, you won’t need rules. You’ll just be able to stick with things until they’re finished. For now, if you’re like the rest of us, make a plan, pick an annoying punishment if you find it easy to give in to distraction, and follow through if that happens. It helps to tell the world what you’re trying to do and what will happen otherwise.

All of this aside, the easiest way to avoid distraction is to eliminate it as best you can. Go somewhere with fewer things that need your attention. Hide from the world until your task is done, then emerge victorious to celebrate your success.