Lately, fighting with distractions and balancing on the edge of procrastination and being productive, I dive into thinking what is a distraction?
At first, it sounds like a silly question, everybody kind of understand what is it. But if to think further, distraction is something that puts away your attention from something else. So what is a distraction in my life? In the end, I have a life with no specific goal as a human being. So if I am in the moment of time feeling well — I am living a good life, so technically speaking, making an effort to do anything else would be a distraction.
So the key to undestanding your strategy against distractions is what is your goals in life. And actually, it’s not that trivial. First of all, what I found insightful for myself is that you need to be aware of your goals. And this is not quite common across people. From my experience, not many people will be able to answer, if you would ask them about their short-term and long-term goals in life.
And the next big thing is that you need to relate to those goal. That might also sound trivial, but my story is that from the childhood I used to be led. My parents gave me instructions in this life like “you need to go to school and listen to your teachers”, then I had a bunch of commands and tasks from the teachers, before I went to university to replace them with new tasks from my professors. So my goals were to finish off my education, and everything else were considered as distractions — playing games, hanging out with friends or watching cartoons, all sorts of things I actually liked doing when I was a kid. And that’s why when dad asked me, who do I want to be when I grow up to choose the right univesity I was confused. I have never been choosing anything like this before (we had no optional disciplines in school). As a result, I mostly oriented on my parent’s advices. I needed more instructions, as I didn’t know there is different way.
And even a few years after I graduated, while I was continuing post-graduate studies, I still lived by this instructions I got from my youth — you need to get a nice education, good payed job, a family eventually and be good. So I just continued to go with the flow, never thinking to much about my personal desired, as they are usually are the distractions. I believe this is a consequence of a soviet union legacy and my “good boy” syndrome, but only after some time I started to realise, that it seems I had a few failed ground concepts I built my life on. Actually I am pretty lucky, I got into game development occasionally — it was my first job, that I found earlier that any other programmers job, so the flow was pretty generous with me.
So, when I play games on a PC or PS4, do I surrender to the distractions?
In my case, it depends. When I started to realise what is it I truly want to achieve in my life, I surprisingly found that I want to make games. I love programming and I am able to recognise that I am good in that, but making games is not about programming. It’s more about the story, the design and the image. Programming is a tool to make it all in one product. And now I have a plan for myself for the nearest future — I want to learn game development from the new sides. Drawing was one of my childish hobbies, that I could never imagine to have any use in my life, and now I am actively growing the skill. And this is only the beginning.
But let’s get back to the distractions. I find games a great way to relax from the hard work, or simply ventilate your soul with new experiences and brain exersices when you have some free time. But at the same time it’s like the alcohol or coffee — you need to keep it’s amout in control.
First of all, it’s time. When you play — you can’t do anything else. So the more you play, the less time left to do anything else. Like drawing. Or reading. Or walking on the fresh air. And all of that you need as well to be healthy and in a good mood.
Secondly, if you play too much — your brain gets overexcited. And it makes it less effective in your casual tasks, like doing work. Or reading. Or drawing. You just can’t sit still and concentrate, cause your mind is ready for action. Just like with beer, when you drank one glass, you don’t enjoy the second one the same way. But usually you still drink it, and the more you drink — the worse you get later.
So yes and no. Games are a good way to keep your brain and soul in shape, but if you don’t know your dose — it will hurt your life.
Another thing about your goals — write them down. Your mood is always gettig high and low, and sometimes you feel like you want nothing. At times like this it’s easy to neglect your best interest and take bad decisions. And when they stack up you might just forget about it. Then you will probably discover them again and start from scratch, but it’s all time, that is a limited resource. And finding yourself with no progress in years is frustrating. Also, when you find strength to force yourself to do something useful, when you don’t want anything the best thing is to have a written tasks somewhere, cause this is not he time for planning personal growth. For myself I use Todoist — I write down a few yearly goals with some basic sub-tasks and schedule them somewhere. And any tasks I consider worth doing I also add and schedule. Of course they are rarely done according to schedule — I reschedule them, I am keeping them overdue, but I remember about them.
Another thing with To-do apps is that I making use of my instructions-oriented mind. As I am so good in following instructions in my life — it’s best if it will be my instructions! And it works, when I have a taks in Todoist — I can’t mark it done, if it’s not. So I need to do it. And eventually I do this. I never tracked things like the amount of completed tasks, but I review my yearly goals in the end of the year and I just feel the progress when tasks in Todoist are not growing into the infinity. But scheduling is very effective to kick yourself into doing something, it’s harder to negotiate your past self in the light of being judged by your future self.
As a final word, don’t be afraid of distractions, as long as you know where you going. In the end, the progress is what matters.