Friday, October 14, 2011

War On Distraction: Introduction

Earlier today I declared war on distractions. Well, maybe I didn't declare war, but I do want to learn to deal with distractions in a better way. And that's what I want to do here: learning in the open. 

So here's an announcement. Starting tomorrow, I'll be dropping off a post everyday on a new way I find to deal with distractions. As of now, I don't know how long it will go for. Perhaps around a month? I have a little list I wrote, but if I can keep it going longer than that, I will try. 

Image via Boing Boing.
So, here it is! The real first post (post zero, some would say) of my War on Distraction (WoD) series. What shall we discuss today? Why not a broad idea of dealing with distraction?

Dealing with distraction. This is what I want you to think of when I say War on Distraction. Why do I say that? Because there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to actually deal with distraction and would require a larger attention span than I can afford.

I'm a simple guy. Breaking things down into large categories just makes the world make much more sense to me, and I bet it will to you, too. So let's take the large idea of dealing with distraction and split it into three parts. One can:
  • Hide it
  • Fight it
  • Escape it
This may not look like much, but every technique to deal with distraction could be classified under one of these categories.
  • Hiding is ignoring distraction or saying that it doesn't exist. This can be healthy, when, for example, ignoring a distraction for a short time, from a few minutes to around an hour, or when deliberately choosing not to give it your attention; however, it can also be unhealthy to hide distractions. It all depends on the distraction. Sometimes you just have to fight it.
  • Fighting is taking a more aggressive approach at this problem. In this case, you would stare it straight in the face and say "I win." Your willpower wins the day. This could also mean taking care of smaller distractions as they come up instead of ignoring them. Like cleaning or other small distractions.
  • Escaping is a more passive approach towards the problem. We could also call it avoiding. It's not really a positive thing all the time, nor is it totally negative. Escaping once in a while can even be a little healthy.
These could also be called the three big strategies. People will tend to do one more than another. I will admit that I try to escape more than fight. The last five years will attest to that. But now I am under the impression that when in a war against distraction, it may not be the best idea to use one single strategy all the time. That's what I did. It's time for me to take a more balanced approach. I am going to go face to face against distraction a lot more than I did before because I have to now. There are less opportunities for me to avoid it. But that's okay, because I have a secret weapon.

Willpower. Yes, that's right, willpower is a weapon. However, like all weapons, you must train with it to make it effective. And that's what writing this series is all about for me. I'm training my own willpower. And I'm building it up day by day. 

It needs to be strong to fight against its arch nemesis: Procrastination! He's a shifty one, too, sneaking in there when you least expect it. Procrastination usually gets the day when your willpower is either too weak or too exhausted to fight back. There's a way to fix that, and that's by training your willpower. The better trained it is, the easier it is to stand up to anything. (Some day in this next week I plan on finishing up a post I started today about an analogy and method you can use to train you willpower to bow at your whim.)

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