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Distraction is the Enemy

Dear friend,

A realization: in life, distraction is the enemy— nobody/nothing else.

PDF: Distraction is the enemy


This is my rationale:

As humans, we are capable of doing really cool and epic shit. Yet, in order to do epic stuff, we need insane and intense focus. And to focus isn’t to simply “force” yourself to focus. I believe focus means to kill distractions.

If we remove distractions, I believe anyone can move mountains.


For example, we all have distractions; we all know what our distraction Kryptonite is. For myself in the past, it included email, my phone, text messaging, Facebook, Instagram, What’s app, video games, the App Store, blogs, websites, etc. For others of us, it may include Netflix, YouTube, or other distractions.

First of all, I don’t want to say that anything which prevents you from working is a negative/bad distraction. For example, we can define what is a negative or a positive distraction to ourselves. If I’m in pain from surgery, hell yes I want to be distracted by video games or something. If I’m suffering mental pain, of course I want to distract myself by doing something more meaningful: spending time with loved ones, friends, family.

Also what others say is a distraction isn’t always a distraction. For example I love to read books, study cinema, study philosophy, draw, make photos, etc. Others might say that is a “waste of time” or a distraction that is keeping me from doing “real work” like dutifully answering emails or other forms of which I believe is pseudo-work, but once again — you can define what is meaningful work for yourself, and you can define what is a negative distraction to you.


A practical way to think about this:

If you knew you were going to die in your sleep tonight, what would you not distract yourself with?

For myself, I wouldn’t care or worry about petty bullshit. I’d only focus on my creative-art-philosophical work, spend meaningful time with loved ones; that’s pretty much it. No worries about others, no worries about money, fame, power, influence, etc.


Personal solutions to focus

Things which have helped me cut out distractions in order to focus:

  1. No checking email unless there’s actually something urgent for me to send, or wait for. I don’t check email as a nervous tic, or a habit. This way I don’t open up a ”can of worms” or “Pandora’s box” of things I didn’t yetknow concerned me. Checking your email will put you in defense mode, and force you to respond to the problems of others, instead of you focusing on working on and producing your own meaningful work.
  2. No phone: I got rid of my phone a year ago, and I’m so much more focused now. No mindless checking email or social media when I’m waiting for the bathroom or for something. Instead, I look around, and let my mind wander and relax.
  3. Lots of black coffee: Caffeine/coffee being the ultimate stimulant to help me focus and have the impetus/motivation to produce creative work.
  4. Headphones: Listen to the same track over and over again, or keep the same album on repeat. Or have a playlist that helps you cut out distracting noises or stimuli from the outside world, to help you focus on meaningful work. Experiment with noise isolating or noise canceling headphones.
  5. Adblocker Ultimate browser plug-in, and no reading random news online. It’s all sensationalist crap which is meant you to click on advertisements.
  6. IA WRITER APP to focus on writing in “focus mode” not to get distracted.
  7. Turn off WiFi and Internet with “Freedom app”.
  8. Memento mori: If I knew I would die today, what wouldn’t I distract myself with, and what would I end up focusing on doing?
  9. Stochastic resonance: Nassim Taleb reaches us in Antifragile, that some background noise is beneficial to help us focus. This is why the small distractions and ambient noise in a coffee shop helps me focus, because I must “fight back” against the distraction, to focus on my creative work.
  10. Do your work on an iPad, to “single task” and get more creative work done, like writing (IA writer), editing photos, reading books (iBooks), and using the “Purify” app to block advertisements in Safari.
  11. Realize that almost all social media apps that are “free” are usually monetized by distracting you with advertisements.

Random ideas

  1. To better focus, what if we used virtual reality headsets to block outside distracting stimuli (like using an Oculus go headset to do creative work). What if I could put on an Oculus Go headset, and use a virtual keyboard inside virtual reality, to do creative writing?
  2. Some random distractions are good, but it is best when you can dictate when you desire to distract yourself.

STAY IN THE ZONE!
ERIC

To learn more, read:

  1. Intense Focus
  2. The book “Flow” by Mihalay C.

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