What to do if you struggle with internet distractions and resistance to work.
Work sessions not as productive as you need them to be? Here are some mindful approaches to managing feelings of demotivation and distractions.
So this is me, leaving the metaphorical basement where I’ve spent the last several months deep in research and writing for my upcoming course.
Okay, maybe I’m not that hysterical—but I am that pale. Frigg, I really need some sun.
Anyway, what this means is that I’m recommitting to providing for you all some useful if not interesting content at a regular interval.
Of course, I’d love to drop a fresh Reddit banger every week, but I’m not that clever. So, to fill the gaps, I’ll be providing value through behind-the-scenes updates, resources recommended, Q&As, pictures of my pets (gotta give what the people want), and other fun stuff like that.
To start off, here’s a Q&A exchange I had with an alumni of my group program. I’m sure you’ll find her predicament quite relatable.
I keep struggling with the stupid internet addiction - I don’t even use social media, I just google stuff and read or browse music forever. I wish I could go completely cold turkey for a few hours but need to often use the internet for photos to use in work [as a designer] and I listen to music online.
I realize its due to emotions of the lizard brain and its a long term work. But would you have any practical tips or ideas how to make it easier? I've been thinking about only having internet on my ipad and then sending the reference over or something like that.
Sure, yeah, you can try that. There's however an "inconvenience factor” that might stifle and frustrate you to the point of reversing it, so the key is to calibrate it until you get it right.
But, at the end of the day, if your brain is really needing a distraction, it will find one including offline (the ingredient list on the toothpaste tube is quite riveting). You really have to get to the root of this desire, which really comes down to your reflex to avoid feeling a negative emotion.
I've found that getting really deliberate with my system works best.
For example, time-blocking my day and planning my work session to granular detail really pays off. If, for example, I'm supposed to be writing an article but I get the urge to tinker with a logo design (which could be classified as "productive" work), I know it's my brain avoiding the discomfort of challenging work.
From there, unplugging is key. I take myself to the couch and I… just sit there. I do some controlled breathing. I have myself 'look' at the resistance and any other emotions. Maybe there's lingering negative thoughts, stuff like nobody wants to read my crap. I just look at that too. No judgement.
Maybe I realize that the resistance is too strong, so okay, I allow myself to do a timed 30 minutes of logo work. But then I'll unplug again, hit the couch and try again.
Throughout all this, you never want to be forcing yourself to work—lest you add on more discomfort and another reason to grab a vice for relief or an escape.
Truly, I think you're spot on on the calibration. Has to kind of stop you from mindlessly checking the internet… but if its stopping you from working its not gonna last long.
I don’t know how to work around the “not forcing yourself to work” thing. Although, I do agree as forcing it adds on friction.
My follow up
Re calibration: Exactly. I’ve even found that going overboard with webblockers undermines an equally important objective: cultivating confidence in oneself. Each “rep” of saying no to an accessible vice works to build that much needed self-trust.
In terms of avoiding force, yeah, it’s quite a nuanced practice, but it works. When it feels long and maybe too indirect, just remind yourself of the mantra: Go slow… to go fast.
Yet, okay, if you do really want or need to get going with the work, consider replacing the word “force” with the word “guide” in your I need to force myself to get this done. In other words, you want to gently guide yourself into taking productive action.
Like, if you wanted to have a stubborn donkey go through an obstacle course, you’d need to remain calm and gently nudge them in the right direction. From there, the best you can do is wait to see if he advance as you hoped or if he decided to eat your shirt instead.
This is where mindfulness is key. You have to cultivate the habit of just observing the resistance, accepting that it comes from an antiquated biological imperative to survive by conserving energy. Then you need to sort of reject that impulse and gently guide yourself to do a bit of work.
Rinse and repeat as the resistance comes back.
I hope this helps ;)
Btw, did you find this Q&A valuable? Give it a little heart thing to let me (and Substack’s algorithm) know.
I also encourage you to reply to this with any question you have relating to habits, productivity, time management, mental health or even business development. I’d love to give you, and the other readers, my best take in another email.
That’s it for now.
PS, reply with [I’m in] if, for my upcoming course, you want to put on the “first-dibs for perks and discounts” list. ✌️