I am going not to talk about being distracted for an hour, a day or even a week. I am talking about year long distraction, the kind of distractions that deviate you from the person you wanted to become… one day.
I was filling some applications online and I stumbled upon an exam paper issued by my high school:
It is the graduation year that followed mine. This exam sheet was taken by high school pupils, 9 months after my high school graduation in 2002.
I took some minutes to contemplate the content of this exam sheet. Boy did I do this kind of stuff when I was younger? To be able to solve three Math exercises, two in Algebra and one in Geometry, all under two hours, with no “practice exams” available to us at that time, with all the fucking stress of a naive pupil back then, with no perspective into the future other than to study and hope for a better tomorrow.
Yes, with no perspective.
I was a regular guy, just trying to compete with the best high schoolers in town for four fucking years. I had no concept of future except to stay on the course.
I had no “big” distractions. No Internet, no social media, no smartphones. No real distractions other listening to hard rock music on cassettes and playing the guitar.
I was a little soldier training for a mission.
How distracted am I now, as a Network Engineer?
When I reflect on what I accomplished since I started studying at school up to now, I would say I have fucked up many occasions to become an extraordinary Network Engineer.
Sure I learned a lot of stuff not directly related to network engineering along the way. It helps. But I always had the kind of regrets roaming in the back of my mind, when I am alone with myself.
- ” If I had concentrated more on studying than to jerk around at the school yard…”
- ” If I had used the free time on weekends and holidays working on an interesting project or on a certification..”
Nowadays I feel less concentrated than what I used to be. And I don’t mean in the job or while taking care of my family, etc. No no. I mean I am being distracted from the BIG things, the ones that keep haunting you days and nights knowing that you have the potential to do more and BE more. You know what I am talking about if you are a Type-A personality.
Today there is Messenger, Whatsapp, Youtube, LinkedIn, Internet, Netflix at night, etc. Every tiny shiny thing seems to grab a bite in my attention budget and distracts me massively when I am by myself.
Even the days I immersed myself into personal development. I thought I was doing stuff that matters. Yes I acquired some interesting soft skills. But on the long term and without proper plan, I dived into a huge ocean of knowledge and it was indeed just another form of distraction and procrastination, I’ve come to conclude.
The strategy that I am working on
Write chunk goals
I bought a cheap paper notebook and a pen. I write any small goal/action/things to understand – or simply I’ll call them “chunks” – I need to do for the day. I write anything in any language I “feel” into: English, Arabic… The main thing is that I write and make it a daily habit.
I don’t care if I achieve them all or not at first. My priority is to prove to myself that I can concentrate on things that matter to my conscious mind, not to my “seashell life”.
And I make sure not all chunks are of the same type. In fact, I insert health-chunks, family-chunks, career-chunks, etc.
Having something under my eyes and seeing it done during the day gives me a sense of accomplishment. Boy how many times I failed to achieve them!
Before I go to open a social media website, I force myself to ask these questions:
- What am I looking for?
- Is it a good use of my time?
Sincerely guys, who of us network engineers won something real on social media? We either get frustrated with the many faked famous Youtubers/Instagramers posting their fancy latest Lamborghini, or read what the next IT guy we follow on Twitter thought about global warming.. What a pitiful world LOL!
Catch yourself doing dumb shit
If I consciously catch myself doing stupid things or idling with co-workers, I say to myself “what the fuck are you doing?”
Take short frequent breaks
Drowsy feeling after lunch? or yawning constantly of a lack of Adrenaline? I go and update my profile on LinkedIn, or post an article, or answer a question or two on Quora, or to check my Gmail for important messages only. I make sure I do no live interaction whatsoever unless it is with my family.
Reflect on it
The next day I take a couple of minutes pondering on the missed chunks of the past day. What did I wrong? Where did I lose the most of time and why?
Now you’ve learned about distractions and how they can deviate you from your focus, which distractions did you face in your career? What did you do to circumvent them?
References & Credits