On Recognizing Distractions & Dealing with Them

I’ve lately come to realize I’m letting distractions rule over me, and they’re—no, I’m—creating a me I’m not happy with either creatively or personally. So for the next four weeks, I’m going to experiment with some life changes. Here’s what they are and why I’m trying them:

First, I’m going to pause blogging during that time. I recognize that I might lose some of my Patreon supporters, but I’ve let that be an excuse for “I should blog instead of write this thing that’s due.” Blogging is already “sexy writing,” in that I can just fire something off and move onto the next thing. It’s already an easy lure, in the “oh, I need to write up warm-up words” and then find that the blog post uses up whatever creative momentum it created. I’ll pick up the blogging the week of June 15th.

Second, I’m going to scale back on my social media usage. I have grown into someone who is generally unhappy, enraged, and depressed—in no small part because of the hostile environment that is Twitter. Being constantly on Twitter is like being in a room filling with gas, and some random tweet ends up being a spark for me exploding. Let’s be fair, I’m kinda known for doing that. And while I don’t have as big of a problem of being seen as an asshole as maybe I should[1], I do have a problem with not having a handle on when I am, with not having a sense of control.

“Scale back” means not having a client constantly running when I’m at a computer. It means not checking my phone while I’m walking from the bathroom. The thing about the Pomodoro technique that always gnawed at me was checking Twitter or whatever only during a break. I felt disconnected. But if being connected means being constantly plugged into a negative energy machine, I should embrace being disconnected.

Of course, my friends are there. My side business is there. I don’t see how I could take a full four weeks off of it entirely, but it’s time I rolled that the hell back.

Third, I’m going to use my table for meals, and not watch media during that time. That’s a step in creating a sense of structured time, which I hope will help curb some distractions. It’s easy to think “oh, I’m going to eat this meal, might as well watch some TV on my iPad while I do” turning into a marathon of TV after the meal is done.

Fourth, I’m going to stop watching my iPad while doing cooking or other kitchen work. I first justified using my iPad during cooking time as cramming as much research in as I could during the day. Then it turned into a thing I just do when I’m cooking or cleaning. And just as above, it turns easily into marathoning media after the task is done. (I don’t binge on podcasts in the same way, so I may listen to podcasts instead. Except I hate wearing headphones in the kitchen, so I’m just as likely not to.)


I might try other things as well. I’m going to try these for a month, and report back how I fared. Also, in that month I’ll catch up on deadlines, finish promised projects, and maybe regain a little mental health. This feels daunting, but in truth I’m only making a commitment for four weeks, to get some perspective on my creative and personal life.

I hope that you’re doing well, read. And if you’re not, I hope you’ll also find ways to tackle life. There’s power in “I’ll try this for a little bit, knowing it’s just to reset my perspective.” There’s power in “I’ll make this life change, and I’ll honestly evaluate it after a specific period of time.”

– Ryan

[1] Which is a separately flaw that’s deeper than what I’m addressing here. :)


2 Responses to On Recognizing Distractions & Dealing with Them

  1. Ken Burnside says:

    Some years, I feel social media is the smallpox-infected blankets of the reptoids of Zeta Reticuli.

  2. John Powell says:

    Good luck Ryan!

    My habit of listening to NPR in the morning and The Daily Show, Colbert & Rachel Maddow after dinner was turning me into a rage machine too. I cut all that out about a year ago and am much happier. I now just listen to NPR on the weekend and the On The Media podcast, and only watch The Daily Show or The Nightly Show when I want a laugh.