Friday, November 05, 2010

Ignore All Distraction (Except, Of Course, Pole-Dancing)

Today we're featuring a guest post by Aditya Dubey.
Aditya is currently a CA student and constantly juggles exams, article-ship and a menagerie of strange interests (he's known to have read the printed copies of Encyclopedia Brittanica cover to cover). Here he share a few tips on managing distractions.

The best way to manage distractions is to ignore them. Distractions often cut down our productive time by a significant margin and have us attempting myriad ways to negate their effect. I find trying to tackle the actual distraction futile if not actually counter-productive. The issue usually lies with whatever it is that you’re supposed to be doing when you’re distracted, not the thing which actually distracts you. So when you think about how not to be distracted you actually end up wasting more time.

Most of us tend to come down with varying degrees of OCD when there’s work/study to be done which we really don’t fancy. From e-mail notification software to stationery, everything needs to be perfect lest we get distracted. When you need to do something, the best thing to do is focus on it. To quote Nike: Just Do It. It sounds simple and not particularly helpful, but if you think about it, the major problem when you’re distracted is that you’re not thinking about work. Work becomes this almost abstract entity which needs to be done, but is not happening because you’re too busy getting tab-jacked on Wikipedia (or writing guest blogs for friends). Focusing on what you’re doing entails thinking about it at the most basic level, the level at which you will execute it. For e.g. while studying, you need to think of it in terms of the particular concept you need to study and not the subject in general. The mental picture should be as granular as possible.

I find that once you’re thinking about it in those terms you’ve already begun your work. To avoid getting distracted once you’re on your way, ignore everything else. Even if you have a moment of weakness and end up on facebook, just close the browser and get back to work. Often we end up making schedules work against us. If I’ve slotted 2 hours for a session of study and I get distracted after one, there’s a tendency to let the entire time remaining go to waste. Or wait for the hour (or half-hour) before starting on something. If you’re worried about something distracting you, chances are it will; even if you fix it. If you keep on thinking about work, especially in a systematic and detailed manner, your productivity will go up.

So, as long as there is nothing blatantly distracting, like blaring music (or your significant other practising pole-dancing), don’t try to do anything about it and focus on the task at hand instead.


  1. It is just SO Dubey to imagine one's significant other practising pole-dancing when one is studying in a study room with bare minimum furniture (and a pole, of course) :D

  2. Who said anything about imagining? ;)