Thursday, 7 April 2011

Is Distraction Destructive? Discuss...

Originally posted November 18, 2010...

Hello Friends.

If I didn’t have a partner who often did his work at home, I wouldn’t believe it could be done.  Working from home seems like one of those unrealistic fantasies like growing your own food or opening a quiet little Bed and Breakfast; everybody fantasizes about doing it, but no one actually does.  Jon works from home consistently, though, and produces actual articles and papers and findings; he’s not just playing Minesweeper.  I don’t know about you, but I just couldn’t do it.  I’m trying to get some writing done on a few projects lately, and writing is something I really enjoy doing, something I want to do forever, but… I can download episodes of Boston Legal, or make mushroom soup where I add my own mushrooms in (that’s like a three to one mushroom to soup ratio), or walk down to Chinatown and feel like the tallest person in the world.
I really want to be a self-starter.  I want to create something from nothing and profit in unimaginable ways.  I really, really want a job without a uniform and a punch card and a two streetcar commute.  But how can I expect to accomplish any of that when Oprah’s been so amazing this year?

Dream: Optimize productivity by eliminating all distra–is that a bear?

Goal: Achievable.  I can’t think of any specific examples offhand, but there have surely been times in my life when I completed a task.  I must have handed in at least one paper, or I would have flunked out of school.  I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again.

Plan: Identify the most obvious distractions and eliminate them.  Such as:

The internet.  What did we do before the internet?  How did people spend their days?  Have you ever suddenly lost internet access while alone in your apartment?  It’s the scariest thing ever!  You start looking at the walls and the door and wonder how many murderers are just itchin’ to take a crack at you.

I think the best case for eliminating the distraction of the internet would be if there was some program you could get which would limit your access to the internet based on your productivity elsewhere.  So you could type in that you had to write a cover letter for a job, finish a first draft of something, and update your resume.  And then, halfway through a YouTube video of Betty White winning an award, the screen will flash a warning, “Want to hear her acceptance speech?  Where’s that cover letter, champ?”  And you’d have to finish it before anymore YouTube.  Actually, that’s probably a terrible idea.  I’d spend all my internet time before the ominous warning looking up cheat codes to bypass the warning.

And Facebook friends, you’ve got to stop being so interesting.  Every time one of you has a cute baby, I can’t get any work done.  Just let me know in advance if you’re going to change your hair colour or post pictures of yourself in a bathing suit, becuase you know I’m going to be all over that.

I could make a home office with a fancy chair and pictures of kids on the desk.  Not my kids, I don’t have any, but maybe pictures of myself as a kid.  Then when work got me down I could whisper to the picture, “This is all for you.”  When he’s home, Jon just uses our dining table from Ikea and a hard kitchen chair.  Again, I admire this, but it’s completely unrealistic for me.  Any time I sit there I start thinking, “But there’s the futon right there!  And a bed in the other room!  What am I, insane?”

Maybe I could surround myself with those inspirational posters you see in people’s offices.  Like the guy climbing to the top of a mountain with the inscription, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it!”  However, my posters would have to be more specific to my life like a poster that read, “You just ate an hour ago” or “Letterman’s a repeat.”

I guess there are some good things that come with being easily distracted.  My laundry’s done, and the dishes too.  I’m caught up on all my shows and removed the batteries from one of the smoke detectors (honestly, I’d rather be burned alive then hear that stupid chirping).  And another entry is added into the Big City James, my favourite distraction of all.

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