Turning your Kryptonite into Sunlight

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External Distractions – Friend or Foe?

I got this idea after hearing my friends talking about the Blockbuster movie that is coming out next year: Batman vs Superman (or is it Superman vs Batman?) If you are not already familiar with Superman, his greatest weakness is the Kryptonite (a green-colored element from his home planet). The Sun, on the other hand, gives out the energy that he needs to be “Superman”!

Being a student, I always have a deadline looming. The night in which the idea came about, I walked down the street for my dinner. Of course, I would not forget my laptop. I already had the intention of doing the work that I had to do there.

I always feel unwilling to do something, although they are important because I just don’t feel like doing it.

Relating back to the past months, I used the opportunities of being in different places for my meals to do the things that I would not do in the places where I was supposed to do my work (my room or my college).

Result:

This technique works really well, but the trick here is to pick the correct locations.

Not all places are suitable because they might not provide me the conducive environment.

  • If I need to access the Internet, I would need a place with a WiFi service.
  • If I need a cooling place, I would go to restaurants with air-conditioning system.
  • If I wanted the TV as a constant distraction feeder, I would go to some place with big screen projectors.

Here, I would like to introduce you to “Distraction Feeders”.

(I coined up the term ‘distraction feeder’. Anyways, you get the idea.)

Distraction feeders would be something that keeps me focus on my task. Although they are distracting, they keep me engaged in my work because those distractions are externally. I find that distractions that are caused internally are more benevolent than external distractions. On the reverse side of the equation, external distractions are, in my opinion, more malleable than internal distractions. The latter consumes more willpower and is the number one cause of my procrastinations.

Now, this leads us to the kryptonite that I have been wanting to talk about. What’s my kryptonite? The No.1 answer would be “Distractions”.

The “distractions” that I normally have, are neutralized as they are converted into the source of energy that I need. Ambient noises are one type of distraction that can affect our creativity positively, according to a research done. These noises can provide an energy to dive into deep work. Deep work  is a concept I learned from Cal Newport. If you’re interested, check out his new book! Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Also, if you don’t like the idea of moving around to do your work, try Coffivity (an app that plays ambient noises).

Surprisingly, I find that I work better in the environments that have constant ambient noises.


I hope that answers the question of how I am able to turn my kryptonite  into sunlight!

 

Conclusion:

Distractions can feed us during the drag phase of our deep work. From an article “Thrust, Drag and the 10x Effect” written in the Tempobook.com, there are 2 phases in our “doing” phase.

  1. To start something, we’ll need a thrust force.
  2. To continue the work, we’ll need the drag force.

In Physics, an object will continue to be in motion if no external force acts upon it.  Theoretically, using the same concept, we should require no force at all to maintain “doing the work”. But, that is not the case. We have difficulties staying in the drag phase simply because there are “frictions” so to speak. These frictions can be checking your social apps or emails. Note that all these frictions are self-initiated, but not caused by your environment. Self-initiated distraction, in other words, the negative self-talk that feed your procrastination habit,  is hard to beat. Recently, I was attracted to a type of procrastination called Structured Procrastination. The author explains it simply as:

the art of making this bad trait (procrastination) work for you.”

On the website, another quote hit me right in the brain.

“. . . anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.” — Robert Benchley, in Chips off the Old Benchley, 1949

These quotes offer a different perspective in procrastination. Procrastination is not a destructive unless we can make use of that habit. (I am procrastinating on the more important assignments that I have to complete as I am writing this article!)

External distractions, however, are potent as a force to maintain our motion in the drag phase. Friction will not bring an object to a complete stop if there is sufficient force that overcomes it.

In short:

  1. Utilize the external factors.
  2. Churn out the energy they have.
  3. Turn them into the Sunlight.
  4. Absorb whatever energy that they give out.

We can only be Superman only if there is we turn our kryptonites into Sunlight.

Also, check out an article that my classmate wrote on “How to be a Superman”. Partly, I would like to credit the idea of using the Superman metaphors to her writing.

Now that we know how to stay productive using external factors, you might be interested in reading  Cal’s perspective on the cause of procrastination:  The Procrastinating Caveman: What Human Evolution Teaches Us About Why We Put Off Work and How to Stop


 

Time to get to work! I’m afraid that’s it. The biggest question you should have in mind currently would be:

  1. How can I turn my kryptonite into sunlight?
  2. What are my kryptonites?
  3. What powers me?
  4. How can I get the energy to go past the thrust phase and then stay in motion during the drag phase?

Make sure to share your comments below!

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