Posted in Writing

Time to go do some work… SQUIRREL!


One of the fatal flaws that have cursed me throughout my entire academic career is that I get distracted very easily. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD or ADD, but I’ve always had the feeling that I have it. That’s because I get distracted so easily. Yes, I do procrastinate and that causes for problems down the road, but the reason I procrastinate is that I get distracted so easily. I’ll plan to do something early, and I’ll open my laptop to start writing or start doing research and then the moment I open up Google Chrome, it’s, BOOM, time to do something else. Before you ask, yes, I have tried Adderall before to help me focus, but it didn’t really help. I just got very focused on the wrong tasks. If I remember correctly I took it to focus on my script for my final project but ended up focusing on the Packers and all their stats from over the years. I know I’m not the only person who goes through something like this. Fortunately, there is a way to remedy this.
I was reading an article called Remedies for the Distracted Mind and it gave a lot of ideas that I thought would not only help me but help others who are in situations like me. For instance, I can turn my day into project periods. This is like mapping out all of the time that I’m going to spend on a certain day. Instead of just lying in bed scrolling through my Twitter and Instagram feeds to multiple hours, I can allot time to doing those things. So let’s map out what my Monday could like:
I wake up at 10 am. I don’t have anything to do until 8:40 Monday nights, so that gives me a lot of time, that I spend doing nothing productive. I can use 10am-11am waking up and eating breakfast. Then I can go to the gym at 11:30am-1: 00 pm. Shower and change from 1pm-1: 30 pm. Eat lunch 1:30pm-2pm. Work on my script from 2pm-3pm. Take a break from 3pm-4pm. Work on my grad classes from 4pm-5: 30 pm. Eat dinner 5:30pm-6:30pm. Continue to work on grad classes from 6:30pm-7: 30 pm. Then relax from 7:30pm-8:30pm. Leave for rehearsal at 8:30 pm. Pick up my carpool at 8:55 pm. Rehearse from 9pm-11pm. Drive home around 11:10 pm. I’ll arrive home somewhere between 11:30pm-11: 45 pm. Then I can relax from 12am-1am and still get nine hours of sleep.
Actually seeing how my Mondays could go, is making me realize how much time I spend doing nothing. It’s also making me realize how productive I could actually be, with the ability to still watch YouTube/Netflix or play video games for 2-3 hours a day. It’s kind of terrifying. If I mapped out every day of the week, like I just did for Monday I don’t think I would ever fall behind in my classes again. That being said, I think it will still be a challenge. I do still get bored easily and even working for a little over an hour may be a challenge. A way to beat that though is to change where I work. I normally work on my bed which can cause me to get relaxed and if I’m too relaxed I’ll zone out or get bored. Remedies for the Distracted Mind says to counter that, you should work at a standing desk or a walking desk, because “walking rather than sitting increases blood to the brain during challenging cognitive control tasks.” The same can be said for standing because it also increases blood flow.
Even if I do get a standing desk, could I still be distracted? The answer is yes. If my phone is around there’s always the chance I could get distracted. Our phones are attached to us. I can say that I’m going to go put my phone in another room or in a lock box, but I’m probably going to continue thinking about it. Or, I’ll just say I’m going to put it in another room and don’t follow through. I feel like we’re almost lost without our phones. “They are the last thing we look at before sleep each night, and the first thing we reach for upon waking.” When I wake up I just stay in bed and scroll through my feed.
With the number of distractions that smartphones give us, should we just get rid of them in order to pursue deep work? Well, I think the good that phones give us slightly outweigh the bad. Think about it, with phones we have the ability to contact anyone or search anything, almost anywhere. That being said, phones do disconnect us from people and they always seem like they’re attached to us. In one article I found they completely disagreed with me and say “smartphones give us a “toxic” addiction and we’re “wasting our lives” on them.” I can agree with that, to some point. I do feel like I spent a lot of my free time on my phone, and I’m really only on it because I’m bored. I don’t really have FOMO (fear of missing out), I just need a time consumer. I do disagree with the article when it said “smart people are starting to cancel their social accounts and turn off smartphones. (Maybe that’s why they’re so smart).” We’re going into a digital age, where smartphones and social accounts are a necessity. I found most of the jobs I’ve had through social accounts. I don’t think getting off it would assist me in any way.
So then how do I do deep work without getting rid of all that? Well, for me at least, I feel as if I have to wean myself off of my phone. Just like I would if I was addicted to smoking. If I use it less and less I won’t have as many problems getting rid of it when I start to work. I think if you start using your phone less and less each day, you’ll find it easier to put it away for a few hours at a time to get some work done.

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