I have a problem with distractions: they distract me. They distract me from important things. They distract me from the things I really need to concentrate on in my day to day life as a student and a teacher. These distractions are more than unfortunate realities but they are truly damaging to my ability to finish the tasks assigned to me.
I’ve been focusing on finding a “quiet place” and some other ideas in the past, but how am I to avoid the onslaught of endless entertainments to be found on the internet; endless interruptions to be located in co-workers; and an endless number of tasks I can barely keep track of? The task is indeed difficult. While I certainly don’t have a solution, my endeavors to find one have resulted in some fairly interesting outcomes.
I’ve mentioned many times before that I am addicted to technology. Most of the time technologies are supposed to help you finish your tasks more quickly and successfully. The problem is that they also provided additional distractions. When I need to write a paper I could write it by hand (and not be distracted by incoming e-mail, instant messages, and those fun games that come with computers… but that means I’ll have a much more difficult time with the revision process later. I’ll have to re-type the whole thing!!! While this is useful sometimes (as a revision technique) I don’t want to pretend that wonders such as word processors do NOT exist. There had to be another way.
One of the ways I’ve located for myself is the terminal window (I use Linux). Here it is in a nutshell: The entire screen is black, the text is white, and I type. … … (pause) … That’s it. There aren’t “windows” or “web browsers” or “incoming messages” (there could be… but I’m not smart enough to make them work this way). There’s just me. Me and words. I don’t worry about making things bold or italicized or underlined; I don’t worry about the size of the text on the title page or creating a place for footnotes; I don’t worry about numbering the pages or making the first page unnumbered. Without these worries I find I don’t really have any worries at all. I focus and I write. That’s it. More on this later… but this gives me a digital version to use for revision – saving lots of time!