By superimposing yourself over the distractions you’re basically saying “you have no power over me”. There’s a ton of research about distractions in the office place, about how it takes you 15 minutes to recover from a subverted train of thought and other variations of the same basic premise. That premise? We are useless at being people and working at the same time. However, I disagree. When I wrote my novel (possibly the biggest accomplishment of my life) I did so while watching a steady stream of films. My mind, like most people’s, tends to wander. So instead of trying to tie it down, I had an epiphany. What if I just filled my life with things to get distracted by?
I think back of the first time I ever watched An Evening With Kevin Smith. While talking about his self deprecating brand of humor, he lays it out like this. “I just figured that if I said I was fat, before people could make the joke about my weight they’d go, ‘well, he knows already…hmmm’ “. In doing so, Kevin Smith took the power away from his detractors. He admitted right from the opening kickoff that he was an overweight man and challenged you to make a better joke than he already had. This is my plan with work and distraction.
The other day, my best friend texted me and asked me what I was up to. My answer?Watching a movie, writing a blog post, doing some web development work and listening to a talk on 99u. He laughed not because he thought that I was joking but because he knew that I wasn’t.
Sure, there are times when I sit quietly and read. Sometimes I just write. Sometimes I just watch a movie (although not very often). But by becoming my own distraction, I’ve taken the power away from it. It means that when it’s crunch time and I need to get work done and I don’t have that perfect environment, my sound proof, windowless cage complete with locking doors and no StumbleUpon, I’m golden.
Want to get started? Here’s my recommendation. Start listening to 99u, TED, or a podcast of your choosing while you work. Continue to add further distractions until you can’t get things done and then take a very small step back. That’s your prime mental working real estate.
Hey, look over there.