10 Distraction-Free Days – Verdict

Published November 29, 2009 in productivity - 2 Comments

Distraction Free Image

Original image by santo rizzuto

My 10 Distraction-Free Days experiment has come to a close and in this post, I want to share the very interesting experiences I had with it. Let me say right to begin with: The experiment didn’t go as I had imagined it would. What it did do, however, was open my eyes to something new.

Off Target

First, let me tell you about what didn’t work out, where my 10 Distraction-Free days failed.

Days one through four went really well. I really managed to spend practically every minute of those four days doing something productive and I didn’t spend a second on forums, twittering, unnecessarily checking mails or anything like that.
But on day five, I pretty much slacked off and spent quite a lot of time procrastinating and distracting myself. How did this happen?

In the course of the days, I felt some kind of tension build up. I had a pretty good drive to keep working on important things and I managed to focus on my tasks very well, but it felt like the willpower necessary to keep this up was dwindling. I found myself still working at 10 o’clock in the evening and still looking for something else important to do. I realized that some distraction sometime during the course of several days was almost inevitable.

I think the easiest way I can explain it is that on day five, my willpower broke down from overuse.

The other thing that didn’t work out quite as well as I had hoped has to do with the importance of the tasks I was working on. I was hoping that I would be able to focus on some of the most important tasks that need to be done to move my businesses forward. Unfortunately, I still didn’t come around to completing most of those. There were just too many day-to-day activities and projects of “medium” importance that kept me occupied all through each of the ten days.

Still, it’s a small success: Before, I would often feel overwhelmed with all the tasks ahead of me and just procrastinate. Now, I was doing important and semi-important stuff almost constantly.

Catalyst

The greatest benefit I got from this experiment was an unexpected one. Even though this was not part of my challenge, I noticed that I became a lot less hesitant during the 10 distraction-free days. Since I felt like I had to constantly do something useful, I never wavered and pondered on my next actions for too long. I just went straight for any opportunity to do something productive.

So, when the idea for a new challenge popped into my head, I didn’t wait or weigh the options. I just grabbed my camera, went outside and shot my first video for the 30 Videos in 30 Days challenge.

This challenge has been going surprisingly well for me and even though it’s only a few days old, I already feel like I’m making great progress with my videos. After completing the first few videos, I noticed that I really could produce fairly good videos at a much higher rate than I had ever done previously and this gave me a great drive.

In conclusion, one challenge led to a completely different one and both of them have been very much worth doing, for me.

I greatly encourage you to try a Distraction-Free challenge for yourself, to see where it takes you. You can get a lot done, even if the challenge lasts only a few days. Maybe it would be good to set a timeout sometime in the evening, so you don’t burn out like I did on day five. But then again, it’s always interesting to test out your limits, so doing it without a timeout also has it’s benefits.

If you decide to try a challenge like this yourself, I’d love to hear from you and learn how it goes for you.

  • Shane you LEGEND!!

    first off: really really like your site. smoldouring slick design dipped in a soup of orange-wearing indian swami sages and a thousand gleeful virgins. and then there’s the money content. so all round supremo respect…

    as for this post: really like the idea, specially given the amount of time that i spend procrastinating, but – and maybe it’s something i’ve read or just a progressive rationalisation – but i find that it takes a lil while for my ideas to ripen and the procrastinating – the messing around to get myself into a good mood – and indeed, even the “off time” where i’m just blazing out doing nothing in particular – it all serves to allow brilliance to swirl and mutate. not that there’s a limit to the amount of glory that you can churn out but i find the downtime serves to allow the ideas to ripen – and to that extent, procrastinating is sometimes the best thing for me.

    although, again, that could just be won big juicy rationalisation 🙂

    know all about that tension that builds up after intense work. happens constantly when i’m in exam mode (i’m at university). maybe it’s success barriers or wa’eva but i think it’s just a matter of needing to stretch your proverbial legs before you continue the marathon.

    really like the lesson gleaned. that kinda quickdraw gunslinging reflex. def think it’s a matter of habit and conditioning. not necessarily into not wasting time but out of wasting it. if that makes any sense 🙂

    awwwwsomeness all round.

    gave it a stumble too.

    keep well and in touch mate.
    alex – unleashreality.com

    • Hey Alex!

      Thanks for commenting!
      I definitely see your point of view. Maybe we’re on two ends of a scale, here. I think I have a tendency to overdo things and the result is usually that I crash hard. Just like I did on day five of this experiment.
      This was particularly bad in regards to physical activities up until a few years ago. I have injured myself way too often because I just didn’t know when to quit. I learned my lesson there, but apparently not with non-physical stuff yet…
      I was reminded of this because you wrote “stretch your proverbial legs before you continue the marathon”. Sounds like the exact kind of thing I would idiotically neglect to do…

      And thanks a lot for the stumble, mate. 🙂
      Cheers,
      Shane