Do the Thing! – Fighting off distractions: No, not that kind; the other, crappier kind

Do the thingWe all know that distractions are huge obstacles to getting done whatever it is we need or want to get done — whether that’s writing a book or doing the laundry.  After all, I’m writing this and you’re reading this on the Internet.

But when it comes to procrastination distractions, I can’t offer you a lot of help.  It’s a demon I wrestle with because I love deadlines and eventually I get done what I need to do by the moment I need to do it.  It’s stressful and weird and another challenge for another day.

Because there’s another type of distraction out there, the one that comes in the form of self-doubt and criticism. Now, it would be easy for me to just tell you that you are awesome and to get over that right now.  I have before, and I will again.  But let’s get real, sometimes we have long-standing worries and we need regular infusions of pep-talks and reassurances to get past them.

The problem is those aren’t always available to us. So, for me, labeling as a distraction self-doubt or negative obsession with stuff that isn’t really for me (i.e., reviews, which can be useful to me as a writer whether negative or positive, but are geared to the needs of readers), let’s me figure out a way to get past the problem quickly while I do the long-term work of self-confidence bit by slower bit.

Because a distraction, I can dismiss.  I can say, it’s unimportant and not worth my time. I can give myself permission to indulge it or five minutes, take a walk to get it out of my system, and then I can declare it beneath my notice to get done what I need to get done.

Is this a solution that will bring you or me one step closer to healthy living?  Maybe, maybe not.  There’s certainly something to be said for at least sometimes deprioritizing self-hate, impostor syndrome, or just plain over-reacting to legitimate but not-for-you criticism, even when you should probably spend some time examining the origin of those feelings.

So while lots of time here we focus on a sort of Go Go Gadget Go that can be a little brutal, this one is sort of the opposite.  This about handwaving and saying that doesn’t matter at all so you can get the work done versus chewing on your literal or virtual nails.

Got some stuff you want us to tell you to blow off?  You know what to do.  Got some tools to help with that other form of distraction, procrastination?  Let’s face it, we probably need those too and they are more than welcome in the comments.

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2 Responses to Do the Thing! – Fighting off distractions: No, not that kind; the other, crappier kind

  1. mo says:

    i’m currently trying to claw myself out of a pretty bad case of “i never finish anything” > not committing to anything > “see, i never finishing anything” spiral of doom. which i know is bs, but man, sometimes it’s hard ignoring the fatalistic part that won’t stop on how past performance DOES predict future performance. never seeing a finished product gets discouraging, quick.

    i’m trying to start with small tasks to build up momentum and self esteem (like this article http://captainawkward.com/2014/06/29/guest-post/) but even my small projects seem overwhelming and i’m not able to focus at all. i keep jumping between things and i’m not sure how much is an emotional (avoidance) thing and how much is a brain thing (lack of concentration).

    on less pessimistic things: i like the pomodoro technique (25 mins of work with a timer then a 5 min break. google has a more in depth info on how and why it works for some brains), the ritual of winding the kitchen timer (and the ticking sound) puts my brain in work mode and the time takes a bit of the anxiety away of having a far away goal. it’s easier to sit my ass down and let go of those lizard brain thoughts when the goal is not to finish, or make something amazing. the goal is to work for 25 mins. that’s it.
    i also have a bracelet and a ring i only wear when i’m working. part ritual, part “uniform”, part pavlovian brain conditioning.

  2. Dion says:

    The Pomodoro Technique is actual good, I enjoy it for 5 years. overcome my procrastination and get more done. Thanks!

    I recommend an excellent tool called Stayfocused impelements the Pomodoro Technique.

    Try it out at http://www.bytesignals.com/stayfocused/

    Windows only.

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