A Hit Piece on Excuses for Distractability

You’ve got a plan – it’s in your calendar, it’s on your to-do list.

Things can get in the way of you completing that plan and realising the potential within it.

Some of these things are internal, others external.

For me, there are many internal distractions that come in the form of ideas. They are always related in some way to something high stakes – either the potential for massive gain or loss. These ideas are always novel and big-picture. The kind of ideas that can genuinely change your life if you act on them. For instance, I’ll get excited about investing, camping, a business idea, a new way of doing something…

And  I’m here to say, they don’t mean shit.

Well, sometimes they are useful and you don’t want to miss your best ideas because you dismissed them all. But you also don’t want to allow ideas to destroy your efforts at taking action by getting in the way of plans, commitments and the execution of older, staler, less vivid ideas which you’ve already started. Ultimately, it’s better to act with deliberation, patience and composure – neither overexcited nor made anxious by abstractions.

For a while on this blog I have been gradually removing unnecessary noise from my internal world.

It’s been blissful at times as I shed what’s useless.

Now it’s time to accept that no idea is ever so good that it should stop you from doing basic things like planning your week or doing your work.

Ultimately, what changes you and what changes your life is not what you think about for a while – no matter how inspired you feel in that moment. It’s what you take action to make concrete and real. When you can make something tangible with sweat and focus and discipline, that’s when the beauty of an idea is worth something.

Without that basic routine of getting stuff done no matter what – ideas are worthless for you.

Schedule time to develop the idea properly. Give it the space it needs, but do not let it demand everything because then it will take everything and you cannot trust an abstraction to give you everything back again.

GETTING STUFF DONE

Focusing on one thing at a time is a principle that doesn’t have diminishing returns for effectiveness. The fewer the things you are focused on the more rapidly you will progress.

Partly because of momentum – seeing progress creates a positive feedback loop that makes you work harder and enter the flow state. Partly because the cost of switching tasks is very high. Even doing more than one thing in a day incurs a cost. It’s not just for people doing 20 things.

The ideal for effectiveness is to reduce the number of maintenance tasks in order to channel as much of your attention as possible into a narrow object of attention.

I don’t think you can do anything serious at all without that kind of focus.

Administrative work requires time blocking and moving from one task to the next.

This is how you manage things that require constant maintenance but no real deep execution (because other people are doing that).

If you take that ‘admin’ ‘task-oriented’ approach to your personal projects they won’t get far.

How far can you take the idea of ‘focus’?

TIME BLOCKING

Notes from 5 different YT videos on scheduling / time blocking:

  • Identify big rocks – most important things that other things are made to fit around.
  • Develop a long term plan with the most compelling vision of heaven and of hell you can. Now you have some direction and more motivation, planning your time is possible.
  • Do not set arbitrary responsibilities, really, your day might be like 20% responsibility (depending on how far behind you are) but you should plan days you genuinely want – not the ‘you’ that holds the whip, the ‘you’ you’re whipping. This helps a lot with concentration.
  • If really scattered, set very small but manageable foals and work towards those. E.g. 15 minutes distraction-free work for a week. Then, if you can 17 minutes. Even if you can’t, 15 minutes is NOT insignificant and is very different from 30 hours one week and zero for the next year.
  • JP plans every 30 minutes weeks in advance. You need a plan for the next 3 years, one year, 6 months, 3 months, week, day and hour.
  • You cannot be mentally healthy without a routine, it just doesn’t exist.
  • Set goals (don’t avoid identifying them out of fear that you’ll then know when you’ve failed)
  • Seriously, ask yourself ‘what am I willing to do / what will you do for me if I do this work? (to yourself). That’s the person you need to negotiate with and you have no choice, that’s who you are dealing with.
  • Ask yourself ‘would I pay someone £50 to do what I did for that hour?’ If not, maybe you’re wasting your time.
  • Cracking the whip then procrastinating is a pathetic way to live and is so common.
  • Schedules give you MORE FREEDOM.
  • Maximise work & relaxation – focus on intensity and balance, do not mix (I already understand this clearly, focus, balance, distinction between things).
  • LEARNED HELPLESSNESS – attributing failures as fundamental character flaws – the belief that you are not in control. You need to remove the words ‘low conscientiousness’, ‘failure’ etc. from your vocabulary completely. Even when you fail – no – especially when you fail. And you will. Keeping going and consistency is what counts most, not meeting whatever standards you have set.
  • Run experiments and journal about how they went – ‘I tried X the result was I felt like X, therefore I should do gardening as a routine’.
  • Allow for buffer time – more than you think. Break down tasks as it’s easier to predict how long they will take then. Estimate how long tasks will take (SIDE: but say you schedule 1 hour and it takes you 10 mins and you waste 50 mins, so long as you start the next time block in 50 mins, you are still waaaay more effective than the guy that doesn’t stop after 50, and that could easily be you.)
  • Do not overschedule, you can only do so many things in a day, especially of a high quality ,like creative work.
  • Focus on sustainable quality and quality recovery. Figure out what that is and don’t exceed it.

a new center of being; the solution to poorly integrated openness and neuroticism

exploding laterally in all directions

pulled apart

by ideas, problems, fantasies, plans, abstractions

ripping me open

I cannot see the day

the world of abstractions seems MORE real to me than the world of events

ask me what happened last week and I’ll include a lot of things that only happened in my mind – the development of new perspectives, solutions, worries etc.

I don’t want this

It’s not clever

Abstractions can blind you

words conceal as much as they reveal

I want to see clearly

I want to enter the world, where I’m supposed to live

‘Awwwh, but you mean I have to look at the cars in the street, instead of think about something interesting?’

No. You don’t have to be mindfully present and aware of your physical surroundings all the time.

I just want the ‘default me’ to exist in the present, rather than in my head

I don’t just want to meditate a bit etc  balh balaaah blah – no, not enough

I want MORE than that

I want to be able to see what I look at. Looking is not seeing.

that is my goal.

To see what I look at, most of the time.

I want to solve problems with my hands instead of my head.

I want to get back INTO my life.

‘What’s going on today, I want to be involved’ – I will say when I wake

Enough drifting.

Enough unanchored dreams.

Enough ideas – don’t be so greedy and impatient young man!

BEING

NOT

MERELY

DOING

this is a change in reference. The reclaiming of the ‘present self’ over the future one. The reclaiming of the day over the years.

Ideals should be embodied.

This is about embodiment.

I’ve been disembodied.

I’m moving house. I’ve been a gypsy in the realm of dreams – not as fun as it sounds – and I’m coming home to the place where things unfold, not where they did unfold, nor where they could unfold, nor how they might’ve unfolded – but where the action happens.

Why did I ever go in there?

Looking for answers?

Looking for solutions to problems?

Escaping boring class rooms?

Escaping stressed teachers?

Trying to survive in an environment where I was utterly under-stimulated and utterly under developed- all at once?

HUNTING for something.

Let’s be less metaphorical. I was trying to find conceptual solutions to real problems, to gratify my need for stimulation and to understand the world and things that interest me on a deeper level.

Those reasons are not all that bad.

The problem is when a preference for novelty and new ideas (openness to experience) teams up with a sensitivity to threat (neuroticism) and gets you constantly coming up with solutions and ideas to solve your problems and realise your numerous fantasies.

This is not a healthy integration of those traits.

A healthy integration means that ‘the day’ and ‘the present’ in particular are seen as the things that everything else revolves around. The day is the center of gravity, and the present self is the center of efficacy and power.

 


Ok, this isn’t a complete solution to everything. In a s