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Distraction is born within us

We often blame social media for making us feel distracted but as Oliver Burkeman points out in his book 4000 weeks:

The overarching point is that what we think of as ‘distractions’ aren’t the ultimate cause of our being distracted. They’re just the places we go to seek relief from the discomfort of confronting limitation.

When we work on the more mundane parts of the meaningful projects we want to execute we crave for a joy that we might have lived, had we spent our time elsewhere. But because we are bound to our work and somehow know that we ought to do this meaningful work, we turn to the virtual worlds to give us that joy, to be somewhere else rather than file those documents, paint in those drawings, toil over a page of writing.

But distractions only take away the energy, even if mundane or painful, from the work and only postpone the finish line somewhere further. In some cases even destroy the project altogether. A project that has to be redone in a future time, a time that actually could have been used to enjoy in a way that the mind was craving to, but now can’t be.

Like anyone who runs knows, thinking about relieving your pain or fantasizing comfort while doing that lap will only throw your breathing off, inevitably making your running even more painful. So is with every task. Focus on it so that it gets done soon and gets done well and keep the joys of what could be, for a later time.

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