Sunday, June 14, 2015

Work Begins Now (Distraction is Compulsory)

Being in a new work environment I've set myself up with a schedule of personal projects and studies I want to work on. One thing I was clear about with myself when I set this up is that I would try to avoid negativity if I got off schedule.

Well here's my chance to test that approach, I'm about a week and a half off schedule. Part of this is due to a nagging lack of self discipline I seem to have. When it comes time to get down to something I know needs to be done, I veer off to the side. Sometimes it's just something else catching my attention and keeping it, sometimes I am scared of getting started, sometimes it's the negative nah.

- Getting distracted. It could be anything from an email, to a website to an idea that I had and started thinking about it......soon I'm WAY off track and occasionally I don't even notice it and hours are gone.

- Scared of starting. This one deserves a whole blog post. For some reason the prospect of starting work on something, or picking up where I left off can be extremely fear inducing. Sometimes for fear of failure, sometimes the amount or detail of the work seems daunting.

- And then there's the old nemesis. The negative nah. That self-defeating tendency to avoid doing something I want to do or need to do just to be mean to myself. When it comes to keeping to a schedule this can also take the form of nap. A negative nap. That's not to say that resting is inherently bad, but sometimes I do it as a way of dealing with the anxiety brought on by all of this avoidance/procrastination/negativity.

Often the thing I put in place of doing what I intended is media...and for me...it has a nasty side effect. It's extremely addicting. When it starts it's usually the media that's addicting, be it a TV show, a book series or a podcast...starting into it gets my imagination going. Again, not a bad thing in itself; being creative and imaginative is central to who I am.

I've described my attention as having two speeds, scattered and unfocused...and uber-laser focused. If I actually do manage to get focused on something, that is absolutely all my mind is doing. TV shows in particular I can't even watch without laser focus. If I divert my attention from the media for even a moment, I will have no idea what is happening and I usually have to go back to catch what I missed.    So If I decide to spend my free time consuming media, or avoid working on something by consuming media...it usually sucks me in pretty quickly, because my entire brain has become wrapped up in it. So when one episode or chapter ends...my mind is all about that media and wants more, so I keep going.

That's still not the worst thing, good art is engaging, exciting, makes you want more. It's evidence of people making good, enjoyable things. But soon it's not the enjoyment of the media itself that keeps me coming back, it's the fact that it's become easier to keep doing it than to think about or do anything else. By this time I might have started feeling negative about the work I'm avoiding. I'll start to feel like my entire life is out of control. Everything around me will start to take on this irritating nag that I'm not attending to it or doing anything about it. Watching now becomes a way to avoid that nagging feeling. And watching is also happening at the same time as growing self hatred.

I don't know where the bridge happens here...but sooner or later, what I'm really getting enjoyment out of is making this situation worse for myself. I start to feed (same as the negative nah) off the self-torture of avoiding work, increasing anxiety, and media escapism. I can remember countless times watching shows where I'm literally saying to myself that I'm not really interested in or enjoying the show anymore as I start another episode.

This kind of thing has somewhat happened to me this past week. The negativity has not been so bad, but I have gotten really off track and burned away all my work hours on media.

It's addictive, the media, the negativity, the procrastination. They all wrap themselves around my mind and hold on tight for as long as they can. It's so frustrating...If I was anxious to start work before finding something to replace it, the anxiety is multiplied.

I needed a reset.

Yesterday I just left. I just left where I live and all my work and spent the day driving and biking around the area. I drove three hours out of my way just to enjoy the scenery. Today I made a catch up list and am on track so far. I have thankfully avoided the negativity this time around.

Now I just have to remember that I can succeed, and carry that memory into the week ahead.

Hopefully this "reset" of sorts is a skill I can master, and cut down time on...and actually get some things accomplished in my life.  We'll see how it goes.

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