blinders: for a distracted mind

March 18, 2008 | 2 Comments

This is the introduction to an ongoing series called Blinders. I’m going to explore some ways I try to help my oft distracted mind stay focused on what I’m doing.

Last week, I started meandering through A Perfect Mess. I’ve only read about a tenth of it, so I probably shouldn’t comment on it yet. I’m going to anyway.

The premise of the book, or at least the first tenth of it, is that messiness isn’t as bad as we make it out to be. So much time can be spent maintaining organizational systems that it is counterproductive. I wouldn’t argue this…it wasn’t long ago that I said something similar.

But that misses the point of why I find value in having some organization. The main benefit of trying to create order and structure is this — my mind, and my life, are easily distracted. I need to create some space to reflect and be creative. Here are some thoughts out of my daily pages from a few weeks ago that gave birth to this series:

Why the drive to organize my spaces when my brain is such a mess? Ha. It’s not really a mess, but there is more distraction going on there than there ever is on my desk or my comptuer screen. It is my mind that shifts me over to see what is happening on another space. Not the distraction of my screen that takes my mind away. Oops…another one to incubate.

The blessing of a computer is that it can be a great tool for productivity and creativity. Unfortunately, it can also be a portal to, well, everything. It is a distraction machine. It is not uncommon for me to find a window buried on my screen that represents something I was working on half an hour ago, and completely forgot.

In the two or three posts to follow, I will be sharing some of the ways I try to beat my computer into submission. (If you are a computer rights activist, please note the use of metaphor and sarcasm.) I have posts coming on how I am simplifying my documents folders, as well as how I have streamlined what my workspace looks like.

If you have tips on what is helpful for you, you are welcome to share them with the rest of us in the comments.

  • This post fits me to a tee. I’m glad knowing I’m not alone in the distracted creative type category. I have tried using a program called Blank or something like that which blacks out all programs but the one you’re currently using – it’s OK. But even better I found a quote from the 4-Hour Workweek that I have next to my computer that says:

    “Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?”

    When I do start chasing down bunnies online, I look over at that quote and I get guilted into resuming my workload. For me, it works. My productivity zoomed by using this statement for motivation.

  • John

    Jeff,
    Thanks for the comments, and the quote. I suppose it really does come down to motivation no matter how much you work to create space…