How to Fight Impulses
The trick is in distance
The common characteristic of people who had the most time and the highest income is the ability to singletask. — Tim Ferriss, New New Internet Speaking
But even if we wanted to, it seems like temptation is around every corner. New content from friends every minute. New e-mails. New notifications.
I am as tempted to dive into the new updates as much as everyone else. I’m a much greater believer of systems than I am in myself when it comes to self-control. I’m easily fallible. The system is much less so. So is there a system, or a principle, to fighting impulses?
How you stay faithful in a room full of hoes? — Kanye West, Can’t Tell me Nothing
If you pardon the crass language, you may find that the image makes it more clear: put as much distance between it and you.
This can involve:
- Dragging any non-essential apps to the second menu screen of your iPhone, so you don’t immediately see the notifications when you unlock your phone. (To be fair, I got this tip from a lady I’d met at MastermindTalks.)
- Logging out of Facebook everytime you use it, so you need to type a password in and buy some time to turn back. Same goes for e-mails and other social networks.
- Getting out of the house. I try to go somewhere, like a library, where it’s just me and my work.
- If you’re doing Pomodoros, for goodness’ sakes please don’t use your phone’s clock app. Buy a kitchen timer.
- Your body requires good fuel to perform at its peak. I’ve yet to meet someone who has said, “Damn, I wish I binged on that bag of chips today.” Never have junk food in the pantry. If you’re really craving it, you’ll have to get up off your comfortable couch, get into your car, and purchase it from the store. Looks a lot less attractive now, right?
Use your effort to get as far away from it as possible; that naturally makes it more difficult for you to succumb to the impulse — and the impulse suddenly looks less tempting.
If you’re in a committed relationship then it’s part of your responsibility to minimize the number of situations where “you’re in a room full of hoes.”
And if you’re committed to excellence and creativity, then it’s your obligation to minimize the chances of you giving in to an impulse when you’ve told yourself that you’d be working.
Cover image by: joeshlabotnik