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.
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.
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.