Wavering Mind

Written by Jenkin Au
Edited by Jenkin Au
Photography by Jenkin Au

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The arch nemesis of productivity is distraction. When you need to focus the most, distractions set in and pull you away from the set. When you’re working away on an essay or a report, your fingers itch for the mouse to point you away to something else. Even worse is when the sun is out – you look outside and all focus and motivation for work seems to dissolve the same way butter melts away. Your focus did not disappear completely – it’s just waiting to become solidified again, while in the meanwhile, you focus on when your next trip outdoors will be. While there are many ways to shelter yourself from distractions that take you away from the task at hand, how do you deal with projects that span a time frame which is much longer than a single setting?

While pursuing projects, it is very easy to get distracted and lose focus. The deadline for a project seems to be eons away, allowing your mind to wander into the zone of procrastination. When this happens, it becomes harder and harder to jump back into your original mould of motivation. This is much different than working on an assignment that can be completed in one or two sittings. In that single setting, the perception of a deadline is much more apparent. Your will to focus is higher and your adrenaline is pumping. On the flip side, for a long project, your deadline is far too far away and your adrenal glands can’t keep pumping that many times – you will eventually burn out. Whether this happens fast or slow, one thing remains clear – the stakes for a project are often much higher. You can’t afford to lose. Bankruptcy is not an option.

You repeatedly tell yourself this and remind yourself that failure is not acceptable. You motivate yourself through motivational self-lectures in your mind as you do a play-by-play of what would happen if you were to fail. You never want to see that happen to yourself, but it is often not enough. Self motivation is a gift that only a few percentage of people possess in the world. It is a rare trait – a desirable trait. For most people, they are externally motivated. They wait for something to spark their ideas or wait for an stimulus to boost them back to work. But soon, you fall back into the procrastination and distracted state that you were before. As far away as the deadline seemed a few weeks ago, it is now facing you like an elephant in the room. What do you do?

At this point, it is very likely that you will fail, in one way or another. Whether it is a big fail, or a small fail, failure is inevitable. The amount of planning that was allotted for the project has its reasons for its allotment. Pumping that much into the last minute will result in a product that does not meet your own personal standards. You might try to justify it by saying that given the time frame, you did well. But you need to ask yourself: ‘’Is this really acceptable?’’ You have left yourself on a cliff hanger of near despair – not all hope is lost. This experience becomes a valuable lesson for yourself in the future, instructing you to do better for next time. It’s something that’s repeatedly said in society and that’s only because there are that many failures in society. Better luck next time.

So how do you really deal with projects that have such a long deadline? It’s so easy to get distracted in a way that it contorts your perception of time distance. You must find something that keeps you on track – whatever your motivator is, you need that thing, that idea, or that person, with you. As dependant as that might make you feel, it is a necessary aspect and an aspect that many people struggle to discover.

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