Just saying no to TV and other ”distractions” is proving to be a challenge. The good news is, it’s just about as hard as I had anticipated it would be. That’s also the bad news. But the real good news is that my No TV Challenge is just into it’s second week, and I’ve already learned, and been reminded of, a few important things.
Procrastination comes in all shapes and forms.
This is the most obvious when you have something completely overwhelming that you’ve postponed for just a little bit too long. You might find yourself almost making up chores, and things you do in preparation before you get started.
One of the trickier ones to deal with, is thinking. I’ve talked about this before. About how it’s easy to get stuck thinking about doing stuff, rather than just doing it.
It is easier to get started when the break or procrastination activity is ‘less fun’.
This had sort of been one of my key assumptions that motivated me to do this experiment. When I’m taking a break from working, if the break activity is addictive, entertaining and soul-sucking at the same time, it adds an extra layer of resistance towards working. If it is fun and relaxing, but not addictive, it’s easier to switch back to working mode. This is maybe the most motivating part of this project so far.
Productive procrastination is possible, and can be fairly productive.
I’ve started to learn how to make WordPress themes using a particular framework called underscores. I’ve been using this to experiment with making my portfolio site look better. (My final goal would be to create a lightweight, semi-customizable, easy to use portfolio theme. One that is focused on writers. Though it is going to take some time and real effort to get there.)
I’ve also been writing a LOT more this week than last week. A lot of it has not been directly work-related, but most of it will come in handy over the next few weeks. It’s too soon to say if this is because of the no-tv thing, or if there are other reasons at heart, but I suspect that it has at least played a role.
More reading fosters more thinking, and inspires new ideas, but doesn’t equal more ideas on the topic you need more ideas for.
Another reminder to read more about WordPress and development, design and marketing, and other topics that I’m not only interested in, but that also relate to client work.
Slipping is the most tempting when I’m stressed or frustrated.
TV to me is sort of like a pause button for my real life. So, in moments of boredom, or stress or duress of any kind, I’ll be more tempted to press pause, and escape for a while.
Today after some problems at work, I ended up visiting imgur, one of the things I had banned myself from doing. But I immediately caught myself and exited, but again ended up finally watching two unproductive Youtube videos, before again catching myself and moving to the audiobook. But since my main goal abstaining from longer periods of ‘mindless activities’, this is not a big loss. It will only inspire further caution when it comes to letting myself feel stressed without taking immediate action. (Aka, I will remember that the stress is only uncomfortable because I’m not taking action.)
More time doesn’t mean more focused work.
Parkinson’s law dictates that you will ways to make the work you’re fill up the time you have to do it. I have been producing more work, but not always the work I set out to do more of.
Reminders are easy to miss(intentionally or unintentionally).
The reminders that show up in my new tabs have proven less useful than I thought they would be. First, I thought I had struck usefulness gold. A visual reminder every time I felt like straying, that must be priceless! Now, I feel like an audio reminder might be more helpful, but I’m not sure. Or maybe it’s more about making a habit out of paying attention to the reminders, than whatever shape the reminders come in.
One of the problems is that there’s the possibility of just jumping straight from an already opened website to another one. From productive relaxation, to mindless distraction in a click, with no reminder in between. The second problem is that it’s very easy to get used to and skip the reminder, almost like pressing the snooze button in the mornings.
One possible solution is to always close chrome completely after I finish a session. Or perhaps only leave the two tabs, the one with the streaming audiobook and the one with classical music.
Reading books really is harder to start than listening to audiobooks.
Somehow intently focusing your ears on something requires less energy and willpower than doing the same with your eyes. Or maybe that’s not the reason, since reading blog posts somehow seems to be very possible. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s physical shape signals A LOT of content, or simply that it involves the extra step of geting the hell off my computer for once.
The good side of this, is that my audiobook experiment has been quite successful, over 10 hours listened to this week, the equivalent of 250 or so pages. There’s still a lot of potential here, but I think I’m off to a decent start.
It’s easier to get out of the house.
When you don’t have something as tempting as an interesting TV-show or your favorite videogame, it gets a lot easier to make plans to, and actually meet up with people outside of work. This is good, as I’m starting to realize that often, my energy, motivation and happiness levels ‘need a little help from my friends’.
In the past months I’ve noticed that the weekends where I end up not meeting up with friends, I somehow get less done than when me and my friends go on mini adventures, or just hang out. Even though I have a lot more time to do work, it saps my energy to not just do something fun with friends, and I end up doing less work, and just generally feel worse.
So far so good. Only 3 weeks to go, and more stuff to discover.