Controlling Distraction / by AB Mann

If you can’t rely on yourself, upon whom can you rely?

Committing to little changes, day to day, is exactly how you build personal integrity. You teach yourself that, yeah, you can do the things you intend to do, accomplish the projects you build for yourself. And getting to the point where you know implicitly that you have the capacity for these things is a long journey.

The first task in the Focus Course is to give something up for the duration of it. It has two-fold intention: 1. Take the time gained by giving something up to do the course. 2. Building trust in yourself that you can meet personal commitments.

It’s the baby-steps to ensuring you complete the course and start to trust yourself.

Reducing Distraction

I’ve chosen to reduce distraction in my life. I have pretty serious organizational requirements for my phone home screen. The apps on the home screen are the ones I use every day and need to be immediately in reach. Everything else I access via search and should, for the most part, be things I don’t use too much lest I get annoyed with the extra steps required to access them (unlock phone> pull down home screen> enter search text> tap on up> instead of unlock phone> tap app).

Here is my home screen before (left) and after (right) reorganization. for the Focus Course.

It was pretty tight to start, in that I try to be clutter-free with my devices, but my home screen included two of the most distracting apps (two that I thoroughly enjoy) easily to accessible - Twitter and Instagram. Now, I have moved them to the Distraction folder and “promoted” Omnifocus (1) to the dock, re-added Vesper (2) and Reeder (3) to the home screen, and created workflows (the black custom icons) to do things I do everyday with my phone faster.

But how will you tweet (4)?

I am not abstaining from Twitter and Instagram; rather, I want access to them to be more deliberate. Before, when I had any idle moment or just pulled out my phone to do something, I’d end up checking either for updates, umping into Facebook soon after, and losing a few minutes to them (at best); or, at worst, bouncing between them for more than a few minutes in some sort of brain-dead social zombie app shuffle that ended with me forcibly shaking myself out of the daze.

In the grand scheme, not so bad; I mean, I still get work done on time and with good quality. I just want to avoid the idleness cycle that pulls attention into un-useful tasks. If I’m going to “waste” time, I’d rather do it with Reeder where I’m reading and acquiring some new knowledge, than seeing yet another cat photo.

Directing boredom

Boredom isn’t a bad thing. It can be useful to be bored if you handle it directly. And by that I mean, embrace the idle moments with intention If I’m bored, read and article to enrich myself. Or take a sinful moment in a line to let my mind breath between moments.

Really, we spend so much of our lives racing to get stuff done that we don’t need to race through our leaner moments. You’re not missing out.

1. Omnifocus is my GTD app. I switched to it last month and have felt way more in control of my time. I still can't quite get recurring tasks to work as desired in my perspectives - that they appear every morning and drop when checked. It seems you can't have a recurring due task that doesn't always appear because of its due status.

2. Vesper is where I've started keeping snippets of poems, journals, anything creative that occurs to me. Like I think of a phrase I like the cadence of so I jot it down for later review or usage.

3. RSS reader. Ostensibly Reeder contains beneficial content, stuff I want to read to learn something or get news. I don't think anything I read regularly is fluff but I also don't know how I would define fluff…

4. If you like discussing the manner in which creative people work, you should listen to Cortex. This sentiment occurred in the first few episodes and the way CGP Grey and iMyke talk about work and distraction resonates with me like crazy.