Falling into the pit of distraction

March 20, 2022

I don’t trust my brain.

Not when it comes to avoiding distractions while working, that is.

Some types of work naturally capture my attention. I don’t usually get the urge to check Twitter when I’m answering students’ questions, doing my weekly review, or setting up new recording gear.

But when I’m doing my most valuable work—the work that requires me to focus—I do get that urge to go on Twitter, to run a load of laundry, to make tea, or a dozen other things. This is when I don’t trust my brain.

The other day, I was working on the outline for a new YouTube video. It was coming along nicely, but then two friends messaged me almost simultaneously. My phone lit up with notifications.

Shit. I forgot to turn on do not disturb. I couldn’t resist checking the messages. (See? I can’t trust my brain.) One of my friends got COVID. He was feeling fine, but still. The other asked me about a problem I’ve been having. Ugh. Worry-brain activated.

I couldn’t stop myself from replying. Got sucked into two conversations. Started doing household chores while talking with them. Forgot about my work.

Next thing you know, I’m hungry. I make lunch. Eat it. Am furious with myself for having gotten distracted. Now there’s not enough time left in the day to finish the outline and record my video and yada yada yada. Negative self-talk galore.

My point is, don’t trust your damn brain. Turn on do not disturb. If you work at regular hours, schedule do not disturb. Don’t rely on discipline or willpower to stay focused. Your work is hard enough as it is. You need all the help you can get.

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