Sometimes I can tell when focused work just won’t happen.
Back at university, I made a conscious decision not to work around my friends.
Most students like to occasionally work in social environments where they can chat with friends, grab snacks together or even discuss lectures together.
And whilst there’s an element to group study that can’t be replicated in a solo work session, there’s a cost.
The issue with group work is that there are often no rules or boundaries set in place that ensure the focus remains on studying as opposed to socialising.
The result? Distractions.
Some of my friends would look back at some days as having ‘spent the whole day in the library’. The issue was that only a fraction of that time was spent doing deep work. The more they fooled themselves into thinking this was true, the more days they spent compensating for not having truly learnt the subject.
I was far from the brightest in my year group, but one thing I did right was to anticipate distractions and keep them far away from my work.
If I went to the university library, I knew that my friends would be there and so, any work of mine that took place there wouldn’t be productive. So, I’d only go to the library to hang out.
What that meant was:
It wasn’t until I was in Istanbul last week that I recalled this practice, as I was actively doing it again when hanging out with some friends who I bumped into.
Anticipating distractions helps us to avoid succumbing to them, it means accepting that we’re not strong enough to resist them and helps us begin to plan a solution.