Distractions

I am sure you’ve felt it. That silent tugging at the back of your head. It’s as if an over-excited kid is trapped beside a college professor (read this article: http://qr.ae/QVw42 – not exactly the theme here, but the analogy!) And the funny thing is, with time, that kid is becoming more and more difficult to appease! Distractions, well you guessed it right, but I gave it away in the title so no points for you. Back in freshman year, I did not bring my laptop to IITB, but once I did halfway through semester one, all hell broke lose. So much content! There’s

  • TV Series
  • Movies
  • Youtube (thug life, vine compilations blah blah)
  • Facebook (Satan’s grinning in accomplishment now)
  • I don’t use it much, but Twitter
  • Reddit
  • 9GAG
  • Buzzfeed
  • Indian variants of Buzzfeed

Ugh, there’s too much. With time, the grip and reach has grown exponentially, and our productivity has taken a hit. A big hit! But I am not here just to rant; rather, I seem to have hit a solution.

Here’s how the next chapter in the story progresses. Non-fiction has grown on me recently – I’m still not a big fan, but am beginning to understand that it’s an essential component of the diet already loaded with David Baldacci and Jeffrey Archer. I’ve been reading this book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (http://www.amazon.in/dp/B006WAIV6M), and my reaction to reading the book fluctuates between being baffled to thoroughly impressed on the many aspects of the psychology of habit creation. Here are some excerpts that I’ve taken the liberty to reword, mainly because I’m too lazy to open the book:

  • “McDonald’s and all other fast food chains standardise their restaurants, workers’ dresses and their ways of talking and engaging with customers, the food shape, size, smell and taste – because it forms the cue in the habit loop. All habits can be boiled down to this loop of cue-routine-reward, with the driving force being a craving. Simple to state, but substantial to grasp. All thanks to a primitive structure in the brain called the basal ganglia, which loves this loop – maintaining which is its job.”
  • “Alcoholics Anonymous – although it’s debatable whether the origin of its practices is pseudo-scientific; the practices are very scientific in application. One component is identifying the cues (maintaining a craving journal, so to say) – and that actually goes a long way in shooting down the compulsion to drink.”

I recently also found this tool called RescueTime (https://www.rescuetime.com/). It basically logs everything that I do at my computer and mobile devices in terms of the time spent. Here’s what the dashboard looks like on an exam day, and the day after:

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 1.48.26 am

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 11.10.46 pm

(Slightly skewed statistics, but you get the idea). This is great! Before now, how I spent my time was implicit, but thanks to big brother, now knowing the proportion that goes unproductive at least nags me enough to do better. Knowing helps – identifying the cue at least puts us on a track to switch the routine (e.g., watch TED talks instead of Cat Vines, something that I’ve been trying). I’ll probably comment on how effective things have been a week after now. But, there has been a slight difference already, and it’s poised to definitely grow.

Rambling

Sometimes, writing should be a pointless exercise. Incoherent, unstructured and aimless. Quite like a silent contemplation poured out into words on a screen, with utter disregard for purpose. That’s what I am doing now. I have too much work, and am stretched too thin – to the point where I am just indifferent. Life, in the short run is in a complete disarray. Correction, maybe in the long run too. Sigh. With college drawing to its final year, my once self-affirmed confidence in what I wanted to do is again malleable, and shape shifts every other day – subtly, but definitely. Maybe that’s for all of us. Maybe it’s not, who knows. There’s so much to do. So many possibilities, so much potential. But the world as we see it, the glamorous, dazzling display of affluence shrouding in its keep who knows what secrets; that world beckons me to doors that draw me in with a distinct sense of discomfort. It is as if I can feel something tightening around me, but when I look around it’s nothing – just seconds ticking away gloomily. Dread? No, not that. Dreariness – maybe that hits the spot. My mind swirls up images after images, who knows how fake or true – they’re just expectations that I have been programmed to believe. I feel programmed, really. I feel that all of us are programmed. Structures becoming shackles. That’s a movie dialogue, you know. And a damned good one at that. For it’s true. Writing like this feels liberating. Relieving. Soothing. Meditative, even. No expectations whatsoever. It’s a true reflection of what’s going on in my head, and I begun this sentence after reading through everything I had written so far, ensuring that it was coherent. And it is. It deviates from what is socially acceptable or print worthy, but I shall not refrain from rambling on anyway. It more or less hits the spot. Maybe that’ll happen eventually. Things will more or less hit the spot, or they won’t – who knows. When I started the blog, I thought it’d be a detour. This post is probably the one that comes closest to justifying that title… Now back to work.